As crucial and hard-fought as Game 5 was, the Ducks are expecting the Kings to deliver their most complete effort in Wednesday night’s Game 6 at Staples Center.
Anaheim leads the series three games to two, and can clinch the series and move on to a date against the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference finals with one more victory.
“There’s a lot of hockey left,” Ducks forward Patrick Maroon said following his team’s Wednesday morning skate. “The fourth is the hardest one to win, especially when you know how good they are when they’re down.”
The Kings became one of four teams in NHL history to overcome a 3-0 series deficit when they rallied to beat the San Jose Sharks in the first round.
At Honda Center on Monday the Ducks stopped the Kings’ comeback from a 4-1 hole in Game 5 after forward Marian Gaborik scored twice to make it 4-3.
Anaheim rookie goalie John Gibson answered with a right-footed stop of Drew Doughty and a pad save on Dustin Brown in the final five minutes of hockey’s first freeway playoff series.
“It’s been a great battle — a lot of action, a lot of times when we’re on them good, and then they come back, too,” Maroon said. “We’ve both had the other on their heels.”
Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau said his team has been better than the Kings in only two of the last six periods.
“I don’t want us to play safe. We have to play as hard and smart as we can,” Boudreau said.
Ducks forward Teemu Selanne said his team’s effort in winning Game 5 was a boost of confidence as they return Wednesday night to an arena where they’re 4-0 .
“I don’t think anyone’s confident when they’re down,” Selanne said of the Kings.
Out of series: Boudreau said he doesn’t expect either forward Matt Beleskey, who had a lower-body injury in Game 3 after scoring a Game 1 goal, or goalie Frederik Andersen to play again in this series.
Andersen suffered a lower-body injury midway through the third period of Game 3.