Ducks have enough in shootout to beat Kings
The preseason skinny on the Ducks -- the wealth of skill, the enviable depth -- was such that it could be assumed they could win games in their sleep.
On Sunday, the Ducks actually supported that theory.
There was little jump to their game. They created few scoring opportunities through two periods. There was a hint that the team’s new colors might actually be drab gray with a dull finish.
Yet, in the end, the Ducks gained another two points with a 3-2 shootout victory over the Kings in front of an announced capacity crowd of 18,118 at Staples Center.
When Ryan Getzlaf played now-you-see-it-now-I-score with the puck, leaving Kings goaltender Mathieu Garon flailing at air, and the Ducks walked off with a victory from a lackluster effort, that may just underscore how good they are.
“We have much talent, and winning is always a good thing,” forward Teemu Selanne said.
“Whatever the reason, we just didn’t have it today,” Selanne said. “We didn’t have any energy. We didn’t have any jump.”
They merely had another victory, giving them at least a point in every game this season. Dustin Penner made that possible when he flung a shot from the boards. Garon misjudged the puck, which went off his glove and into the net to tie the score, 2-2, with 5 minutes 50 seconds left in regulation.
The Ducks won the shootout, 2-1, in five rounds. Getzlaf, the final shooter, scored with a dipsy-doodle move that left Garon flat on the ice as the puck was tucked into the net. This was no spur-of-the-moment decision for Getzlaf, who deked a shot, then pulled the puck back on the play.
“I’ve practiced that for a long time, I can’t make that up,” Getzlaf said.
With that, goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere earned his first shootout victory this season in three tries and the Ducks improved to 6-0-2. They got there even though they spotted the Kings a 2-0 lead in the first period and took a season-low 21 shots on goal through regulation and overtime.
“I’ve had all kinds of starts in Anaheim,” said Giguere, who stopped 29 of 31 shots in regulation and overtime. “This one is definitely more fun.”
The Ducks are billed as Stanley Cup contenders, an offshoot of their run to the Western Conference finals followed by the trade that brought Chris Pronger to Anaheim. Unlike past seasons, they have the luxury of skill to produce victories even in games where the work ethic is low.
“We’re not here to make excuses,” Getzlaf said. “We didn’t show up in the first period.”
Yet getting the victory, he said, was “good for this group, especially with the expectations that have been put on us and the expectations we put on ourselves.”
The expectations in the other dressing room aren’t so grand, yet whether the Kings can reach them is still to be seen. This was a chance to sit at the adults’ table during a holiday meal. Once again, they were sent away without dessert.
The Kings are winless in six games against teams considered playoff contenders. They teased fans, getting first-period goals from Lubomir Visnovsky and Michael Cammalleri -- the first goals the Ducks have given up in the first period this season.
Ryan Shannon’s first NHL goal 2:03 into the second period didn’t ignite the Ducks, but it was a reminder of how lethal they can be. Giguere kept the score close -- he gave up two goals on the first nine shots and none on the last 22 -- until Garon redirected Penner’s shot.
In the end, that left the Kings with consolation-prize feelings.
“Goals go in,” Kings Coach Marc Crawford said. “We stayed in the game and they got a big break and we lost in a shootout. All the young guys we have, and this was their shootout. I bet the average age of our guys in the shootout was 21.”
Besides, Crawford said, “Everybody has pegged those guys as one of the top teams in the league and we gave them everything they could handle tonight.”