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Kings were prepared for long series vs. Ducks

by Curtis Zupke / Los Angeles Kings

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Kings didn't use a conventional method to win their Western Conference First Round series; instead, they became the fourth team in NHL history to erase a 3-0 series deficit and win a best-of-7.

So why shouldn't their second-round series against the Anaheim Ducks become as drawn out?

That reality set in a day after the Ducks held on for a 3-2 win in Game 3, cutting its deficit in this series to 2-1. Anaheim can get even by winning Game 4 on Saturday at Staples Center (9:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, RDS, TSN).

"Going into the series, you knew it was going to be a highly competitive environment," Kings defenseman Alec Martinez said. "They had 116 points this year, and I think they scored over 260-some goals. We knew it was going to be a battle, and it has been."

Many pundits predicted the series would go seven games, but that perception was skewed some by the 2-0 series lead Los Angeles grabbed with wins down the freeway at Honda Center.

"Coming into the series, we were told that it wasn't that close, so we kind of bunkered in there and said it was," Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. "So we think it is close."

Los Angeles held a video session Friday, presumably to review the neutral-zone turnovers that led to their loss in Game 3. The costliest mistake was a puck that came free out of a collision between Kings Slava Voynov and Anze Kopitar that led to Teemu Selanne's go-ahead goal late in the second period.

Los Angeles committed 36 giveaways in the first three games. Martinez pointed to getting back to their bread-and-butter neutral-zone forecheck to eliminate those mistakes, but that has to be accomplished against a Ducks team that has four effective lines.

Sutter didn't have much to fault his team for.

"I think that, from all the data that we receive and look at, it was probably our best game of the series," he said.

Sutter cited puck possession, faceoffs and hits among the "wealth of knowledge" they receive.

"Those are dominant stats for us last night," he said. "I don't know how we didn't win."

Six of the eight games between the teams this season have been one-goal results. The exceptions were a 3-0 Anaheim win in the 2014 Coors Light Stadium Series outdoor game on Jan. 25, and a 3-1 Kings win in Game 2 that included an empty-net goal.

With such little separation, the details come into focus. For the Kings, a common denominator in their wins in Games 1 and 2 was scoring first. The Ducks scored first and won Game 3.

"I think good starts are really important," Martinez said. "That's something we've preached all year, especially in the playoffs. You want to get off to a good start, play your game early, establish some momentum in how you're going to play the rest of the night. Obviously, that first goal is huge."

Defending home ice will be a huge part of the rest of the series, considering the road team has won every game. In any scenario, the Ducks and Kings are prepared for a few more bus commutes.

"Nobody thought, on our part, that we were going to blow them out right away," Kopitar said. "It's obviously nice to win on the road, but now we have to take care of business at home."

Author: Curtis Zupke | Correspondent

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