February 25th, 2017
For the first time in 59 games, Jonathan Quick was back in goal for the LA Kings. He looked as sharp as he usually is, despite missing nearly the entire season with a groin injury. Quick made 32 saves as the Kings got a much needed 3-2 win against the Ducks at Staples Center.
Quick was excellent throughout, making several big saves in the 1st period. However, the Ducks still managed to get one by the Kings goaltender late in the 1st. Andrew Cogliano tipped in a pass from Ryan Kessler for his 14th of the season, and Anaheim was in control at the 1st intermission.
Neither team scored in the 2nd period, and despite Quick’s efforts, it looked like another game where the Kings offense was going to come up empty.
Then in the 3rd period the Kings rallied. Tyler Toffoli put LA on the board 3:37 into the period after poking the puck past a sprawling Jonathan Bernier. Bernier was unable to cover the puck during a big scramble in front of the Ducks net. A little over 4 minutes later, it was Toffoli again, scoring his 12th after tipping in a pass from Jeff Carter on a 2-on-1. 17 seconds later, Dustin Brown re-directed a shot by Kevin Gravel, which made it 3-1 Kings.
The Ducks would pressure the Kings in the final 12 minutes, but Quick continued to turn back Anaheim. Finally, after the Ducks pulled their goaltender for the extra-attacker in the final two minutes, Jeff Carter scored his 30th goal of the season on an empty-netter. Carter took a pass from Anze Kopitar, who picked up his 2nd assist of the game on the play.
The game was physical throughout, which is usually the case when these two cross-town rivals get together. Things got especially chippy in the 2nd period, when a 10-man dog pile lead to a fight between Kings defenseman Brayden McNabb and Ducks Center Nate Thompson. Later in the period, Jeff Carter and Ryan Kessler squared off, with Kessler landing a big blow to the face of the Kings leading scorer. A fight involving either of those two skilled players is rare, but the blow may have woken the Kings up from their slump.
Patrick Eaves made his debut for the Ducks after being acquired from Dallas for a conditional second-round draft pick Friday. Slotted on a line with Corey Perryand Rickard Rakell, Eaves played 16:09.
For the Kings, Coach Darryl Sutter won his 216th game with LA, passing Andy Murray for most in franchise history. Sutter also scratched right wing Marian Gaborik for just the second time this season, after Gaborik had failed to score a point in the last 9 games. Gaborik was replace in the lineup by forward Jordan Nolan, who was activated from injured reserve after missing the last 9 games with a lower-body injury.
The win tied the season series between the Kings and Ducks at 2-2. More importantly though, it kept the Kings in the playoff race. LA now trails Nashville by 3 points for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, and they are 4 points behind division rival Calgary. The Kings will face the Flames on Tuesday night in Calgary, which will be the 2nd night of a back-to-back after playing at Minnesota on Monday.
As for the Ducks, they will now have their bye week, and do not play again until March 3rd against Toronto. Anaheim is still tied for 2nd place in the Pacific Division with Edmonton, and only 3 points behind San Jose for 1st place.