We all know the "Things that should make us feel better about a loss" template by now. Let's use it to write about a painful loss in Anaheim, as the Kings blew a 2-0 lead in the final period.
Anaheim 4, Los Angeles 2. Anything that can ease the pain?
"The Los Angeles Kings were on a back-to-back!"
It's an excuse, sure, but it appeared to affect the Kings quite a bit on Friday night. After coming out strong in the first period, the Kings got a goal on the rush from Trevor Lewis, who evaded a half-hearted hipcheck from Francois Beauchemin and deked before beating John Gibson. Gibson had to contend with Dustin Brown, sure, but Lewis might be Gibson's kryptonite at this point. The positive momentum of the first 20 minutes didn't last long, though, as Anaheim controlled the second period and punished a tired LA team in the third.
"At least __________ looked good!"
A few options for this slot, none of them unequivocally good. We'll move quickly past the line of Jeff Carter, Tyler Toffoli, and Dwight King, who have gotten plenty of press lately; they found themselves in the offensive zone quite frequently, but didn't get that many dangerous chances on Gibson by the eye test. (One exception: Carter nearly scored a clone of last year's Game 7 goal in which he burst through two defenders and had Gibson flailing, but his patented can opener move was deflected just wide by the goalie.) Dustin Brown played a physical game, and Lewis had his efforts pay dividends.
How about Andrej Sekera? In his first game in the black and white he looked composed, if a little bit tentative, with Robyn Regehr by his side. Sekera felt the effects of a 3:41 shift in the second after a PK, though, as he simply couldn't make the long change. The reunited pairing of Drew Doughty and Jake Muzzin also had a "good, but" game; the pair was on ice for most of LA's scoring chances and Doughty had one of his swashbuckling "I can carry the puck wherever I want" games. The "but" is that they were victimized on the Ducks' eventual game-winner, though because...
"The Anaheim Ducks just got lucky!"
Well... yes and no. The Ducks earned the two points by playing well in the latter half, and their first goal (to make it 2-1) was well-executed; Andrew Cogliano vs. Robyn Regehr is about as much of a speed mismatch as you can find in the NHL, and Cogliano got around Regehr before feeding across to Ryan Kesler, who'd gotten a step on Sekera and Kopitar. And it's not like this is new territory for Anaheim; if you watched them beat Detroit this week, you saw them face a 2-0 deficit and reel off three quick goals in the final frame. This is what they do.
The second and third goals, though, were of the variety that make you complain about bad bounces even as you realize just how petty that sounds. Rickard Rakell's bad-angle shot deflected off Martin Jones, then Emerson Etem, and in to tie the game a minute and thirty seconds after Ryan Kesler's goal. Then, Ryan Getzlaf flipped the puck towards the goal from the upper corner of the offensive zone and when Doughty tried to knock it down with his glove it dribbled through two players and onto the stick of Corey Perry. Perry beat Jones five-hole to give Anaheim their first lead and would later tack on the empty-netter.
"That goal by _________ was some consolation!"
The last ten minutes -- LA's desperation time -- were very uninspiring, so the second goal by Los Angeles was the final goal they scored. The goalscorer? At long last, Brayden McNabb! His shot from the blueline was deflected by Hampus Lindholm, set up by Anze Kopitar's controlled zone entry. McNabb hadn't scored in the NHL since 2011, during his initial 25-game stint; given his 100+ MPH slap shot and his reasonable puck instincts, more goals should come.
"The possession stats were pretty good!"
True, though Anaheim maintained an edge on the scoring chances front after the first intermission. Anaheim also had a major edge in the shot-blocking department, which accounts for the difference in shots ON goal.
Kings took over raw corsis, Ducks stayed up on chances. Very good effort from ANA. pic.twitter.com/61N1uTtQ7M— Kid Ish (@kid_ish) February 28, 2015
"We beat them in the playoffs last year!"
And there's a good chance LA will run into them there again this year. Surely, Jonathan Quick will be in net on March 18 for the teams' last matchup and he'll be there if the playoff rematch happens. Will Alec Martinez and Tanner Pearson make a difference? Anaheim's 3-0-1 against LA, and though there hasn't been much of a gap in on-ice play, LA needs to remember how to bury these guys.