A short-term collapse can prove to be a long-term issue.
For the Kings Monday night, their hurdle was Anaheim’s three-goal rally to open up the second period, an offensive outburst that saw the Ducks fire away for three goals in a 7:12 minute span, which proved too much for the Kings to overcome in Game 5 at Honda Center.
With their 4-3 loss, the Kings now face what they fought past four times in the first round – the loom of elimination.
Anaheim came out with a heavy tempo Monday night, forcing Jonathan Quick to stymie a couple of Grade-A scoring chances in the game’s opening moments before Nick Bonino beat the Kings’ goaltender, giving the Ducks a 1-0 lead 2:15 into the contest.
Jake Muzzin, who was looking to turn and transition the puck out of the Kings’ zone on the play, caught an edge in the corner, simultaneously coughing up the puck, giving Anaheim’s Nick Bonino time and space aplenty to execute.
The Kings countered with a goal of their own midway through the first, when Trevor Lewis took advantage of a shaky line change made by Anaheim, bursting through a cloud of confused Ducks on his way to beating John Gibson high to the right with a wrist shot to tie the score 1-1 with 10:48 to play in the first.
It was Lewis’ first goal of the series, his third of the postseason.
The Kings’ troubles began in the second period, where the Ducks went on a tear for three goals in a 7:12 minute span.
Those troubles were yet once again sparked by the Ducks’ power play.
After Justin Williams was called for a hooking infraction :42 seconds into the second period, Anaheim’s power play struck again, Matthieu Perreault’s one-timed shot ricocheting off the skate of Devante Smith-Pelly and past Jonathan Quick to give Anaheim a 2-1 lead 1:11 into the second.
Smith-Pelly would give the Ducks a 3-1 lead just 1:23 later.
The Kings’ defense, which is still short their two tough stay-at-home guys in Willie Mitchell and Robyn Regehr, had trouble containing Anaheim’s offense in front of Jonathan Quick Monday evening.
The Ducks’ fourth goal came after the Kings failed on a clearing attempt, as Andrew Cogliano pounced on the turnover, firing a wrist shot on Quick that Jakob Silfverberg tracked, slamming home the rebound from Cogliano’s shot as he was unguarded in the Kings’ crease.
As the second period wound down, the Kings finding themselves facing a 4-1 deficit, they were granted a four-minute power play after Drew Doughty caught a high-stick to the face, drawing blood to ensure an extended power play.
Just :45 seconds after Devante Smith-Pelly went to the box for his high stick on Drew Doughty, Marian Gaborik chimed in with his fourth goal of the series as he ripped home a Jake Muzzin pass from the point, cutting the score to 4-2 with 1:18 to play in the middle frame.
The Kings, who were once again facing a late-game deficit, turned on the burners, outplaying Anaheim through the final frame, outshooting the Ducks 12-2 until Marian Gaborik sent home his second tally of the evening, bringing the Kings to within one goal with 5:48 left in regulation.
Gaborik, standing tall in front of Anaheim’s crease, tipped home Dustin Brown’s back-hand shot from atop the slot to cut the score to 4-3, notching his fifth goal of the series, giving the Kings some reason for hope as the final minutes ticked away.
The Kings couldn’t find the equalizer, even after pulling Jonathan Quick for an extra attacker, and have now lost their third straight game to the Ducks, and trail this series 3-2.
The Kings outshot the Ducks 14-2 in the final 20 minutes, and blew away Anaheim in the shot department overall (42-24), but had difficulty getting inside Anaheim’s defense to hound on rebounds and second chances.
Now down 3-2 in this series with Anaheim, the Kings find themselves facing elimination, something they were accustomed to dealing with in their first round match up against San Jose.
It’ll be a “must-win” situation in Game 6, which will be held Wednesday evening at STAPLES Center, slated for a 6:30 PM PST start.