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Ducks pay the price for slow start in Game 7

by Corey Masisak

ANAHEIM -- There was no turning point in Game 7 between the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings.

The puck was dropped at center ice, and the Kings dominated from the outset. The first two shifts were dominant; each ended with the Ducks icing the puck. Los Angeles kept coming, and it morphed into an awful start for Anaheim. The Kings were up by two goals before the midway point and three by the first intermission.

"The first period was like men against boys, quite frankly," Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said after the 6-2 loss Friday. "They were bigger, stronger, faster, seemed more determined. We were on our heels. Everything that we said that we wanted not to do, we did. When you get behind the eight ball, then all of a sudden you start getting mad, whether it is at the officials or whatever, and you're not doing your game. By the time we started playing well in the second, [Jonathan] Quick was there to make the saves."

Defenseman Ben Lovejoy took a penalty, a byproduct of the Kings having the puck for nearly all of the opening minutes, and Los Angeles was able to score a power-play goal at 4:30.

The Ducks were doing a lot of hitting in the first half of the first period, but they weren't doing much with the puck when they had it. Passes were not precise. Turnovers were a huge problem. Everything was askew, and the Kings preyed on the miscues.

"It's tough to explain. Simply, I don't know. I don't know what we were doing," center Andrew Cogliano said. "I thought we were mentally in the right spot before the game. I thought we were planning on coming out hard against them. They had a couple good shifts to start and it just seemed like we gave them ... more odd-man rushes in the first 20 minutes than we did all series. It's really tough to explain how we can have a first period like that. I thought mentally we were in the right spot and knew how to play. They had a couple good shifts and it just seemed like that was it."

Anaheim's best shift of the first period resulted in Los Angeles' second goal. The Ducks finally had the puck and put together nearly a full shift at the Kings' zone. The problem was Hampus Lindholm's play to keep the puck in the offensive zone went to Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin, and Los Angeles carved up a tired Anaheim group with a beautiful zone exit and transition play.

Muzzin passed the puck to Tyler Toffoli, who quickly got it to Marian Gaborik. He bumped it forward to Jeff Carter, who collected it in stride and shrugged off Lindholm to create a breakaway and a goal.

"To come out and let them get that lead ... I lay a lot of that on our shoulders," Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf said. "Things that we need to do differently. Nerves got us, I think, a little bit. Pucks were bouncing around a little bit and they were capitalizing."

Anaheim had a chance to change the course of the game with a penalty shot from Corey Perry, but Quick poked the puck away from him. The onslaught continued.

Los Angeles had 16 shots on goal in the first period and 18 in the first 22:02 to chase rookie goaltender John Gibson. Eventually, the Ducks settled and played better, but it was too little, far too late.

"We didn't do the things we wanted to do but I want to give the L.A. Kings credit," Boudreau said. "They played like Stanley Cup champions. They never played like that in any other of the six games. I think we were individually and collectively blown away by what they were doing. You'd never seen them passing us ... it was like we were standing still and they were driving by us. We weren't really good, but let's not take too much away from them. They're going to give Chicago everything can handle."

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