What better way to pay homage to Blake, who had his No. 4 Kings jersey retired Saturday night at Staples Center. It was an efficient, classy pregame ceremony, punctuated by Blake bringing over his longtime, stay-at-home defensive partner Mattias Norstrom to join Blake and his family when the jersey was raised.
However, they found another way.
It was such a special evening that the Kings and Ducks did their very best to prolong it, and then some, playing late into the night before Anaheim finally won it, 3-2, via the shootout. Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg was the only shooter to score and he beat Kings goalie Jonathan Quick on the blocker side.
This one did not end until shortly after 11 p.m.
Of course, it seemed destined to end in a shootout. Kings forwards Jeff Carter, Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik could not solve Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen in the shootout and the Kings are 1-7 in the shootout this season and have not scored in their last 22 shootout attempts.
Silfverberg is now seven for 11 in the shootout.
Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau said he first opted to make Silfverberg a shooter in the bonus session after watching an Ottawa Senators-Boston Bruins' game in which the broadcaster discussed Silverberg's "tremendous release.
"We got him the next year, it dawned on me that's what he said, so I gave him a shot at it and he scored. Scored again. Scored again," Boudreau said. "That shot [on Quick] had a pretty great release on it. I heard the ping and the cheers."
Nine of the last 10 regular-season games between the Kings and Ducks have been decided by a one-goal margin, including all three this season. There was plenty of hard hitting and drama in a spirited game between the Southern California rivals.
The Kings and Ducks opened with a period of scoreless hockey before breaking the ice, so to speak. The Kings led 2-1 until there was 7:08 remaining in regulation, sparked by second-period goals from defenseman Alec Martinez and Kopitar, on the power play.
"You've got to get two points in this league consistently if you want to be a playoff team and you want to be successful," Martinez said. "We've played them a lot over the years. They've been emotional, heated battles. I think, in parts of the game we brought that. Other times, we didn't."
Anaheim's goals came from captain Ryan Getzlaf and defenseman Sami Vatanen. Vatanen's power-play goal at 12:52 of the third tied it, 2-2. His low shot from the top of the right circle went off Kings defenseman Matt Greene past Quick, breaking a 12-game goal-scoring drought for Vatanen. The assists went to Cam Fowler and Patrick Maroon.
The Ducks had gone on the power play when Kings defenseman Drew Doughty went off for tripping Corey Perry.
Said Getzlaf: "Quickie made some big saves, tight game. That was as heated game as we've had in awhile."
He was asked about the hard-hitting game.
"Some guys didn't even know there was a puck out there," Getzlaf said. "That's as good a team as you can play when they're playing."
Anaheim has been the master of tightrope hockey, going 21-0-6 in one-goal games heading into Saturday night. The Ducks beat the Kings, 6-5, in a shootout in November and the Kings beat the Ducks, 3-2, in overtime later that month.
The Kings, who have two more games before the All-Star break, have been searching for consistency. They've won one of their last three, beating the Toronto Maple Leafs.
"We have enough talent here," Gaborik said. "We just have to find a way to bear down and put some goals in obviously. We're going to the third period with a 2-1 lead and we just have to find a way to close it out."
It was a late-starting game because of the Blake festivities. His on-ice career and current position as the Kings assistant general manager have been marked by humility and wry humor, often self-deprecating.
During the ceremony, Blake said he viewed the occasion as "the last shift" No.4 will take. He summoned memories of his NHL debut — which came on March 27, 1990 (a 4-4 tie) against the Winnipeg Jets — at the "Great Western Forum," remembering looking up at the retired jersey of Kings legend Rogie Vachon and realizing that, "I wanted to be up there one day."
Helene Elliott and Lance Pugmire contributed to this report.