We can all catch our breath now that it’s over.
What was labeled as the biggest regular-season game in the history of the Kings-Ducks series lived up to that hype Friday. The intensity was ripe. Honda Center pulsed with a playoff-like atmosphere.
After nearly 65 minutes, the Ducks stepped forward with a 2-1 win that they simply needed more than the Kings. But the margin was still thin as ever in the last installment of the regular-season series.
Here’s what we learned:
Rickard Rakell might be the best bargain in the NHL
All Rakell has done is score 65 goals the last two seasons. That’s 33 last year and 32 through Friday following his overtime goal, the fourth of his career.
Rakell, 24, will earn $3.7 million annually through 2021-22, a bargain given that output and that 30-goal scorers don’t grow on trees. He has some of the best hands in hockey, proven by his stickhandle move on his goal, and he’s solidified himself as the Ducks’ finisher for years to come.
Corey Perry will be seeing missed chances in his sleep
Perry flubbed an open-net chance set up by Ryan Getzlaf in the first period, then had Getzlaf’s pass go behind him on a two-on-one rush in the second period. Perry also had a backhand attempt miss in the third period.
It’s difficult to watch Perry not finish chances that he used to bury regularly. He has 17 goals and that’s far below the projection for a cornerstone player who was formerly a cinch 30-goal scorer earlier in his career.
The playoffs always offer chances for redemption, though, and perhaps Perry can make up for it should the Ducks, who moved into the first wild-card spot with the win, can get there. He had 11 points in 17 playoff games last season.
The Kings’ penalty-killing unit should get its due
It’s been a top-ranked unit for most, if not all, of the season and it extended a particularly stingy run Friday.
The Kings only had to kill one penalty, a puck-over-glass delay-of-game infraction by Alec Martinez, but it was clutch. The Kings have allowed one power-play goal in 13 games, killing 31 of 32 chances.
Their system was in place well before the new coaching regime, but assistant Dave Lowry should get credit for continuing where coach John Stevens left off.