Anaheim Ducks defenseman Ben Lovejoy loved everything about the 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series game Saturday night at Dodger Stadium, especially because his Ducks took a 3-0 decision against the Los Angeles Kings. It is the second time in 48 hours Anaheim has beaten its fiercest rival.
In the third and final installment of his blog for NHL.com, Lovejoy talks about the atmosphere of the game, his role in one of the game's defining moments -- the penalty shot by Anze Kopitar -- and what his lasting memories will be.
LOS ANGELES -- That was the coolest thing I have ever done playing hockey. That was such a spectacular night for the Ducks, for the Kings, for the NHL. The crowd was so impressive out there. That game means so much to hockey in this area and it was so cool to be a part of it - and to win.
I remember who has won every outdoor game the NHL has had so far. It's a focal point for the League. I will remember the atmosphere here, but the taste in my mouth would have been way worse if we had lost that game.
Everything about the night was really special. The warmup was very cool. The guys were playing soccer in front of 50,000 fans. We're out there stretching in front of everybody like the baseball players do. We walked out for the start of the game and it was a four- or five-minute walk. I don't know if you have ever walked in hockey skates, but it hurts your feet. We stood next to the USC Marching Band lining the walkway and we felt like rock stars. We had KISS playing in the background. We walked onto the ice with fireworks going off, walking arm-in-arm with the Kings. It was by far the coolest feeling I have ever had playing hockey. We got out there and sat on the benches and took everything in.
As far as walking in side-by-side with the Kings, I don't know if I would want to do it every game. I want to hate those guys. But going out and doing it once for this surreal crowd, it was cool. I didn't make eye contact, we weren't holding hands, but it was cool to come out together to unanimous cheers. Fans of both teams were cheering for hockey. It was a very special moment
In the game, to get that early goal like we did makes such a difference. They are such a difficult team to play against and to score goals against, especially when they get a lead. They are so good at shutting people down defensively and we know that their best period is their first period. They like to come out and punch teams in the mouth and then ride their good defense and great goaltending. It is such a difference-maker to get up by one and two goals against a team like that.
But we almost gave the lead back when I was called for the penalty that led to the penalty shot by Anze Kopitar. It was a quick turnover, and Kopitar was able to come at me with speed and he caught me a bit flat-footed. I did my best to get back, but Jonas (Hiller) was able to make the save and then he came up huge on that penalty shot. He really bailed me out. I think that changed the game. It showed everybody in the building, and the Kings, that Jonas was going to be impossible to beat tonight. He was able to stop their best player on both a breakaway and a penalty shot. It really set the tone. We knew we were playing tonight in front of an amazing goalie who was bringing his A game, and it absolutely lifted our team's confidence.
When he made the save on the penalty shot, I was the first one to jump off the bench and thank him profusely for bailing me out. I thanked him again in between the first and second period. We have a great relationship with Jonas. We play team defense, we know that we are not going win games without him playing well, and he knows we are not going to win games without playing good team defense. It truly is a team game.
Coach (Bruce) Boudreau reminded us before the game this was still a two-point game for us; enjoy the moment, but you are here to work. We absolutely brought that work ethic these two games against the Kings. It has put us 19 points ahead of Los Angeles. That's a huge hill to climb, but it's doable for them. We need to continue to play well. We want to prove to the Kings that we can beat them come playoff time.
Now that it is all over, I'm going to remember walking onto that ice arm-in-arm with the Kings and the crowd going nuts for both teams; for hockey. It was so refreshing. It was both teams' fans going nuts for the spectacle of the event. And I will remember jumping over the boards after we won that game, congratulating Jonas, congratulating each other, the fireworks going off and just saluting the crowd for doing the NHL so proud.