Ducks rally for 2-1 shootout victory over Kings
After enduring eight arid years, after seeing more bad goaltending than you can shake a hockey stick at and almost as many failed rebuilding plans, Kings fans have learned to be patient.
Their wait to reach the promised land of playoff hockey was prolonged Saturday -- by the Ducks, of all teams, a bitter pill to swallow but a taste tempered by the knowledge that redemption still is within reach.
Saku Koivu tied the game late in the third period and then scored the lone goal of the shootout as the Ducks rallied for a 2-1 victory over the Kings before a sellout crowd at Staples Center.
In earning one point, the Kings reduced their magic number to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2002 to three points. They need to earn that many points in their last four games or have ninth-place Calgary fail to get three points in its remaining four games.
Actually, the Kings can clinch tonight if Calgary loses to Chicago in regulation time because a loss by the Flames would mean they can’t equal the Kings’ total of 44 wins. If teams are tied in points, wins are the first tiebreaker.
“It was a big point, but it would have been nice to get two points at the end of the day,” said Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick, who played well in making 32 stops in regulation and overtime and seemed sharper after a two-game rest to get himself refreshed and his technique refocused.
“But we can’t get discouraged here. We’re still going to battle the rest of the way.”
The Ducks sustained their late and unlikely playoff push and moved to within four points of the eighth-place Avalanche, though Colorado has a game in hand.
“The one thing you’re asking from your team is a chance to play until the end and having a chance,” said Koivu, who beat Quick in the shootout after shifting from his backhand to his forehand and lifting a wrist shot over Quick’s shoulder.
“Right now, we’re getting a chance to make it.”
A distant chance, but still a chance after cutting their deficit from 11 points to four in eight days despite losing Ryan Getzlaf and Jonas Hiller to injuries.
The Kings scored at 19:40 of the first period after Ducks right wing Corey Perry was sent off for tripping Fredrik Modin. Ryan Smyth controlled the puck along the right-wing boards before turning and passing it to Johnson, who unleashed a 60-foot slap shot that glanced off Ducks forward Troy Bodie and spun past Curtis McElhinney for Johnson’s seventh goal this season.
The Ducks pulled even with 1:32 left in the third period on a six-on-four power play they created after Jarret Stoll was sent off for hooking and they pulled McElhinney for an extra skater. Koivu scored the goal after the Kings failed to clear the zone and the Ducks jammed the front of the net for three quick shots.
In the shootout, Kings shooters Anze Kopitar, Jack Johnson and Dustin Brown were stymied, while Perry hit the post and Teemu Selanne was stopped by Quick before Koivu scored.
“We’ve got to forget about this one and do the job the rest of the way,” Kopitar said.
The Kings thought they had a goal at 16:01 of the second period when Stoll redirected a pass by Alexander Frolov. However a video review showed the net had come off its moorings and the puck did not cross the goal line, so it was disallowed.
The teams meet again Tuesday in Anaheim. By then the Kings could be in the playoffs and the Ducks out.
It surely will be worth the wait.