The last time Ben Lovejoy made such a glaring miscue, he and the Ducks regrouped for a 21-1-2 roll.
Now on the heels of another rare lapse, the defenseman and his teammates skated through one of their most determined practices Wednesday, emerging, they said, with the resolve they've repeatedly shown while earning the best record in the Western Conference.
"We know we can play through adversity," Lovejoy said. "We've done it all year. [Thursday] is another test, the biggest one we've had so far."
The Ducks head to Game 3 of the conference semifinals trailing the Kings two games to none.
Anaheim had grand plans to answer the tying and game-winning goals by Kings forward Marian Gaborik in Game 1. Instead, in a play Lovejoy has analyzed more thoroughly than anyone, the Kings started Game 2 with this:
"A quick 3-on-2 that I was a little too far over on, trying to gap up on [Kings center Anze] Kopitar. Gaborik came with lots of speed, was able to catch the puck in stride and I wasn't able to catch him," Lovejoy said.
Thirty-four seconds in, Gaborik blasted a shot past Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller, the Kings took a 1-0 lead and were on their way to a 3-1 victory.
Lovejoy said he stewed on the event.
"Getting scored on absolutely keeps me up at night," Lovejoy said. "But 30 seconds into a game against a team that was coming off a momentum-turning overtime win. … You do soul searching, 'What could I do different?' I went right home, watched the goal 12 times, then replayed it over and over as my head is hitting the pillow."
At some point, the bitterness transformed into inspiration for Lovejoy, who teams with Cam Fowler to form the Ducks' top defense pair. And Lovejoy has been through this process before.
Back in November when the Ducks were on an eight-game home winning streak, Lovejoy tried to clear a puck but it struck teammate Corey Perry on the leg and bounced into the Ducks' goal to give New Jersey a 4-3 overtime victory.
By season's end, however, that embarrassment was a blip as Lovejoy finished plus-21 in goal differential and the Ducks clinched the top seed in the West.
If the Ducks need recent inspiration, Lovejoy said they need only to glance back two weeks, when the upset-minded Dallas Stars won Games 3 and 4 in Texas in the teams' first-round series. The Ducks responded with a resounding 6-2 victory and clinched the series in dramatic fashion in Game 6.
"We can't win the series tomorrow night, but we can plant the seed of doubt that they can lose to us," Lovejoy said. "We win, that series is far from over, and [Gaborik's Game 2 goal] will be just another moment to us."
Palmieri back in
The only line change made by Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau at Wednesday's practice was inserting Kyle Palmieri (14 goals, 17 assists in 71 games) in place of forward Emerson Etem on the line centered by Nick Bonino, with Devante Smith-Pelly on the other wing.
"Thrilled to have the opportunity, and hope to have the energy to hopefully turn the series around," said Palmieri, who hasn't played since April 23. "You add the hunger of not playing with the playoffs and being down in the series, I'm excited to get back."
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