LOS ANGELES – Sometimes it’s about who you don’t know.
In seeing the fifth different goalie of their playoff run, the Kings were held scoreless for the first time in 11 postseason contests, falling 2-0 to the Anaheim Ducks Saturday night at STAPLES Center, which knots this Southern California battle at two games apiece.
Ducks’ coach Bruce Boudreau went with the dark horse, calling on 20 year-old Rookie John Gibson to get the start in Anaheim’s crease.
It was Gibson’s first career NHL playoff game, and his fourth career NHL game overall. Anaheim’s youngster held strong and stayed composed throughout the night, stopping all 28 shots the Kings directed his way.
The Kings, who outshot the Ducks by a 2-1 margin (28-14), were hampered by Anaheim’s tight defense, which blocked an astounding 25 shots, taking away many of the looks the Kings had from high-percentage angles.
They were also hampered by their own power play, which seemed to be more a source of issue, rather than a source of momentum and opportunity.
“I think our power play is just being too cute right now,” Dustin Brown told reporters after the game. “We are looking for a better play or the next play as opposed to just getting it to the net and getting bodies to the net. A couple of times we got shots on goal and there is no one in front. Good power plays will just get it to the net and crash.”
After a fairly strong start in the opening minutes, the Kings were exposed late in the first period by way of two quick Anaheim goals.
With 3:58 left to play in the opening frame, Anaheim’s Devante Smith-Pelly opened the scoring after receiving a no-look pass from Corey Perry behind the net. The Kings’ defense was scrambling during the play, and Perry’s discrete look to Smith-Pelly fooled everyone, including Jonathan Quick, to give the Ducks a 1-0 lead.
Shortly after Smith-Pelly’s opening tally, the Ducks went on their first power play of the evening when Tanner Pearson was sent to the box for an interference infraction.
Soon thereafter, Anaheim tacked onto their lead while Pearson served his penalty.
The Ducks established zone time and possession right away, and during a scramble in front of the Kings’ net, Ryan Getzlaf ricochet a puck off of Jonathan Quick’s glove from behind the net, and into the net, after initially missing on a golden opportunity moments prior.
Getzlaf’s goal, his first of the series, gave Anaheim a 2-0 lead with 1:15 to play in the first period.
Jonathan Quick made nine saves on the Ducks’ 11 first period shots, but was pulled by Darryl Sutter in favor of backup goaltender Martin Jones, who replaced Quick to begin the second period.
“I think Darryl was just trying to get some energy and that was one of the moves,” Anze Kopitar expressed to reporters following the game.
Jones didn’t face a shot for over 25 minutes after replacing Quick, as Anaheim failed to register a single shot in the second period, and only three in the third period.
The Ducks went 25:34 without getting a shot off, but it was little help to the Kings, who couldn’t find a way to beat John Gibson.
The Kings doubled the Ducks in both the hit department (52-26) and the shot department (28-14), but recorded 21 giveaways and had 25 of their shots blocked by Anaheim’s defense.
Justin Williams played in his 100th career NHL playoff game Saturday night, but couldn’t prove to be a difference in the Kings’ shutout loss.
In holding Anaheim without a shot during the second period, it was the first time the Kings have ever held an opponent without a shot during a single period of playoff hockey.
The only other time the Kings held a team without a shot during an entire period of play was during a regular season game on April 5, 1978 against the St. Louis Blues.
With the series now tied at two, the affair will shift back to Orange County Monday night for Game 5. The game is slated for a 7:00 PM PST start at Honda Center.