It started in November, when new Ducks’ addition Ryan Kesler entered the Kings’ rivalry with two goals and the deciding shootout goal to beat L.A. after Anaheim couldn’t do so in last season’s playoffs.
The Ducks closed the regular-season series with their fiercest rival with a 4-0-1 record that featured a combined five goals and seven points from Kesler.
Anaheim Coach Bruce Boudreau has been overly cautious when it comes to mention of the Kings, insisting the record means nothing about “having their number.”
Yet, rallying for an NHL-best 12th come-from-behind win when trailing after two periods, while knowing the Kings were far more desperate to win than the NHL points leader, undoubtedly provides some comfort.
There was a playoff feel
Kesler felt it, so did Kings defenseman Drew Doughty, who’s won two Stanley Cups in the past three seasons.
Getting as many good doses of that type of play before the regular season ends April 11 is in the best interest of the Ducks (45-20-7), who have been ousted before the end of the second round in each of the past two seasons.
Eight of the Ducks’ final 10 opponents are currently sitting out of playoff position.
Another big feather in the hat
That’s a nice resume boost as the 21-year-old goalie moved closer to the postseason in his fourth consecutive start.
“He was really good,” Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau said. “The first goal [on a Kings’ power play] was off one of our sticks, so there was nothing he could do. He made some great saves in between and right after they scored [in the third].”
Quite the shift
The bond between Kesler and usual line mate Jakob Silfverberg is tight, but Boudreau tweaked it Wednesday just for the Kings, putting Silfverberg on the fourth line with center Nate Thompson and forward Andrew Cogliano.
“My thought was I wanted them playing against [Kings center Jeff] Carter's line, and so they did … every shift against Carter's line, and they did a great job.”
After the Ducks tied the score 1-1 early in the third period, Thompson bothered Quick in front of the net and Silfverberg rushed in for his career-best 12th goal – and sixth since Feb. 5.
“I truly believe it's confidence,” Boudreau said. “He's always had the ability to score. Great shot, all of those things, but sometimes the confidence isn't there. It's at a point-a-game clip recently and I think a lot of it has to do with confidence and you can see it when he's playing.”
Word play: Ryan Kesler and ?
“Clutch,” was the answer from Boudreau, who used his gritty center against Kings center Anze Kopitar’s line “all night.”
“I think there was only one shift he didn't play against Kopitar five-on-five and he almost had a breakaway,” Boudreau said. “He did his job. I was very happy that he got rewarded for it.”