LOS ANGELES –
An even-strength goal was the difference Saturday afternoon in the Kings’ 3-2 loss to the Anaheim Ducks at STAPLES Center.
“If you look at the special teams, the game is won by one five-on-five goal and unfortunately we weren’t able to get one of those tonight,” Milan Lucic said following the game.
Anaheim came into the afternoon as the NHL’s hottest club and extended their win streak to 11 games Saturday, taking over first place in the Pacific Division – a spot the Kings claimed since the second week of the season.
“Every win and loss is a matter of home ice in the playoffs, so yes, we do realize what’s at stake here,” Anze Kopitar said after the loss. “We fell behind here today and we’re going to have to catch up ground.”
Physical play was the theme of the opening period, the teams combining for 68 penalty minutes which included a pair of game misconducts handed to the Kings’ Andy Andreoff and the Ducks’ Kevin Bieksa.
Three minutes into the second, Ryan Kesler gave Anaheim a 1-0 lead when he beat Jonathan Quick with a wrist shot as Andrew Cogliano cut across to provide the screen.
The Kings answered midway through the second, working on the tail-end of their third power play of the day when Milan Lucic snuck a puck past Frederik Andersen, scoring his 15th goal of the season.
Jonathan Quick earned his second assist of the season on Lucic’s goal, firing a lengthy pass to Vincent Lecavalier, who then found Lucic with a pass as they entered Anaheim’s zone.
With just over four minutes to play in the second, the Ducks answered with a power play goal of their own, David Perron redirecting a point shot past Quick to give Anaheim a 2-1 lead.
The Ducks took a 3-1 lead in the opening moments of the third when Jakob Silvferberg scored Anaheim’s second power play goal of the afternoon. The Ducks went a perfect two-for-two on man-advantage opportunities.
Drew Doughty brought the Kings back to within a goal one minute after Silvferberg’s marker, firing a wrist shot past Frederk Andersen while Anze Kopitar provided a screen, scoring the team’s second power play goal of the day.
Milan Lucic (1G, 1A) led all Kings players in points scored (2), Milan Lucic in shots taken (5), Dustin Brown in hits delivered (9), Alec Martinez in shots blocked (3), and Drew Doughty in minutes played (29:51). Jonathan Quick made 19 saves in the loss.
The Kings will continue their five-game home stand Monday night when they host the Vancouver Canucks at STAPLES Center, where the puck is scheduled to drop just after 7:30 PM PST.