Kings @ Ducks Recap: Penalty Killed

The Ducks are possibly the hottest team in the NHL right now. With a game the night before, it was due to be a grueling battle for the Kings.

It was only a few minutes before the first scrum broke out, and it set the tone for what would become a very physical and chippy game. Through the course of Ducks games over the past couple of years, part of their game plan also appears to get Jonathan Quick to be confrontational. In the first period alone, noted Azkaban-escapee Corey Perry cross-checked Quick, and David Perron was assessed an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty later in the period when he cross-checked Quick in the face. Both ended up being offset penalties, so it's something the Kings are not able to take advantage of on a continuing basis.

[Box Score]

As soon as the puck dropped in this game, the Kings looked engaged and ready to go, which is a thankful change from games prior where they seemed happy to spot their opponents' first goal. That ended up being what happened anyway when Nick Shore was assessed an interference penalty as he and Rickard Rickell jockeyed for position on the blue line to make contact with an incoming puck. Just as Anze Kopitar is the only NHL player from Slovenia, the denizens of the unpronounceable goblin-nation of Corey Perry no doubt beamed with pride as he scored the opening goal for the Ducks. He was left unchecked in a transition into the zone and was allowed ample space to the left of Jonathan Quick whom he deftly roofed it past.

The Kings were eager to equalize late in the period, and they got their chance when Simon Depres tripped Dustin Brown. The Ducks were collapsing in heavily on the power play, which gave the defensemen ample room to get shots toward the net. One shot was all Alec Martinez needed to fire the puck past John Gibson, equalizing the game. The Kings went into the first intermission tied, and the game looked to be shaping into a monster.

Fortunes turned in the second when a weird bounce gifted Tanner Pearson a puck right in front of the net and an unaware John Gibson. He scored his third goal in the past two games, and the Kings had their first lead. Luck, however, was feeling equally magnanimous and gave a good bounce off the glass to the Ducks on a power play. I don't think scientists could have foreseen what would happen to the world when they failed to successfully fuse a two year old hot pocket with a mongoose, but Corey Perry scored again when he was in position with the puck and no defender to challenge him. The Kings headed into another intermission tied.

The third period gave the lead back to the Ducks when a log jam of players amassed in front of Quick as he fought to cover the puck. An unrecyclable collection of garbage scored again, and fans were happy to add their horrible hats to the garbage pile. Just a few minutes later, another power play gave the Ducks their first two goal lead of the game when David Perron skated through defenders mostly unchecked and got a shot in-tight on Jonathan Quick.

Unwilling to quit, the Kings appeared to pull within one goal again when Milan Lucic scored on the powerplay after Ryan Kesler slashed Brayden McNabb. Ducks' coach Bruce Boudreau challenged the play as offsides, and a near 10 minute official review ensued for an apparent offsides that preceded the goal by 36 seconds. On the replay, the call looked very close, and the officials eventually decided to overturn the call on the ice. Despite the protests of the Kings' bench and players, they did not get time added back to the clock to the event of the offsides. This is in direct contradiction to the NHL rulebook, but sometimes things just don't go your way.

The Kings were unable to generate anything else on the remaining power play time after the extended break, and the Ducks really began to take over in the third. Whether it was a tired team or simply an outmatched one, the Kings failed to keep pace with the Ducks' ability to generate shots and chances. A lot of things could have gone differently to tip the scales in their favor, but it was clear that a repeated failure of the penalty kill to stay on a threat near the net was their death knell. Three power play goals is usually too much to ask a team to come back from, particularly a low scoring team such as the Kings.

The Kings have a four day break before their next contest against the Montreal Canadiens. This should give ample time for newly-acquired winger Kris Versteeg to get acclimated to his teammates. Hopefully he can make the offensive contributions the team is expecting from him. Personally, in the absence of Marian Gaborik, I hope he gets a chance to Kopitar's right.