With his sixth division champion, Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau is one win from reaching his first conference final.
He came close once, as coach of the Washington Capitals, losing Game 7 to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2009 Eastern Conference semifinals.
This time, Boudreau's Ducks lead the Kings three games to two in the Western Conference semifinal series that moves to Staples Center for a 6:30 game Wednesday night. If there's a Game 7 it will be played Friday at Honda Center at 6.
Ducks center and ex-Capitals player Mathieu Perreault said Boudreau is "more composed" than he was in Washington.
That's a result, Perreault theorized, not only of coaching experience but also knowing the quality of the Ducks players who earned the Western Conference top seed.
"We were down 2-0 in this series, and there was no panic in him," Perreault said. "In Washington, he hit the panic button a lot quicker. Now, with our team having more depth, being better than the team in Washington … that helps.
"You can see that he believes we can really do it and he makes us believe it."
Boudreau also has made daring adjustments after losing Games 1 and 2 in Anaheim, removing veteran goalie Jonas Hiller for rookie Frederik Andersen in Game 3, and then switching to 20-year-old recent call-up John Gibson for a Game 4 shutout at Staples and a 39-save effort in Game 5.
Rather than obsess on defense against the defensive-minded Kings, Boudreau expanded the roles of offensive-minded youngsters Devante Smith-Pelly, defenseman Sami Vatanen and forward Jakob Silfverberg.
Smith-Pelly, 21, has three goals in the last two games. Vatanen, 22, ranked second among Ducks with 20 minutes 48 seconds of ice time Monday, and Silfverberg, 23, scored the decisive goal.
Perreault, who shrugged off a painful lower-body injury that kept him out of Game 4 to contribute an assist on a Smith-Pelly goal in Game 5, said the coach deserves credit for the push to three consecutive wins.
"He reminded us, 'Guys, we've done this all year,'" Perreault said. "We took a step back and realized we know we can do it."
In Washington, Boudreau was ultimately fired after four consecutive division-title seasons netted nothing more than two conference semifinal defeats.
"The quality of these guys is fabulous," Boudreau said. "You can tell they want it and they pay the price every night."
When the Ducks fell behind 2-0 in the series, a big part of their frustration — and perhaps a mental block — was the inability to beat Kings goalie Jonathan Quick with a defining goal.
In three games since, the Ducks have scored the game's opening goal, helped send Quick to the bench in Game 4 by taking a 2-0 first-period lead, and then slammed four past the 2012 playoff most valuable player by the end of the second period in Monday's 4-3 victory.
"When he ran off four straight against San Jose, then two more against us, that kind of mounts a little bit in your head," said Ducks center Nick Bonino, who scored Monday's first goal.
"We've put that behind us, got to him a little better. He's human, we've seen that, but he can still steal games. We've just got to keep doing to him what we did [Monday] night."
Boudreau said he expects Quick and the Kings to be sharp.
"He's the world's greatest goalie," Boudreau said. "I don't think any of us have thought, 'Oh, we got four by him the other night, everything's going to work out.' We know how good he is."
Saku Koivu's brother, Mikko, played for Minnesota in Game 6 of the other Western Conference semifinal Tuesday. The Montreal Canadiens — whom Saku captained from 1999 to 2009 — will play in Game 7 Wednesday in Boston.
Nevertheless, the 39-year-old has never been to a conference final, so he keeps his attention in Southern California.
"The days you play, you've got to focus on yourself. … There's so much hockey around you, when you have an off day, you want to get your mind off it," Koivu said. "You look at the highlights. … I know it's a dream time as a fan, but I feel you've got to focus on your own stuff."Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times