It’s a signature victory -- at least until the Ducks renew acquaintances with the Kings on Saturday afternoon at Staples Center.
What Anaheim accomplished Wednesday by rallying for the first time in its history from a multi-goal deficit in the final six minutes, beating the Kings, 6-5, in a shootout, won’t exorcise the pain from last season’s Western Conference semifinal Game 7 loss.
But it does give this renewed effort some serious legs.
Takeaway No. 1: Ryan Kesler made the difference he was brought here to make.
The Ducks center, acquired in June from Vancouver, produced two goals, including a startling wraparound that beat Jonathan Quick with 5:40 left in the third period, an assist and the deciding shootaround goal.
Kesler was plus-three defensively while on the ice for more than 21 minutes, delivering eight hits and calling the Ducks-Kings rivalry “fun.”
A season after missing the playoffs in Vancouver, he embraced the effort of his new team, which improved to 11-3-3 by finally winning a fourth consecutive overtime/shootout game.
“Better than losing that game after battling back all the time,” Kesler said. “The fact that we battled back, even going down two late in the third, the way we came back and the way we tied it up to force overtime and then to win in a shootout, makes it sweeter.
“We threw up close to 50 shots tonight. That’s a pretty good game against a pretty good defensive team.”
Takeaway No. 2: The increasing rapport between Kesler and Jakob Silfverberg is something to watch.
Silfverberg possesses a powerful shot, but before Wednesday he was goal-less despite 34 shots.
His second-period goal, off a pass pushed to him by Kesler in front of Quick, might be the start of a run. Silfverberg had four shots and Kesler noticed the spike in energy.
“I like playing with him a lot,” Kesler said. “He’s a really good player and he’s been good for us. He’s just -- like the whole team -- been a little snakebit of late. But we’ve been getting chances, and for him, it was great to see him get one.”
Takeaway No. 3: It’s never dull with the Ducks.
Before the second period, the team conducted a casual news conference in which team doctor Craig Milhouse revealed the illness that has sidelined leading goal-scorer Corey Perry and defenseman Francois Beauchemin was the mumps.
From a 2-0 hole, the Ducks rallied to within a goal in the second, only to watch goalie Frederik Andersen give up a second blue-line shot to his glove side and get replaced by veteran backup Jason LaBarbera.
LaBarbera just so happens to be an ex-King.
“I was thinking that during the game, ‘Geez, I haven’t been in too many easy spots yet,’ ” LaBarbera said. “That might’ve been the loudest regular-season crowd I’ve heard.”
After getting beat by Marian Gaborik and Justin Williams in the third period, LaBarbera poke-checked the puck from Anze Kopitar in the shootout to seal the victory.
Takeaway No. 4: Mumps can strike adults.
The fever, flu symptoms, glandular infection that mysteriously struck Perry and Beauchemin was actually the mumps, and Milhouse said Perry’s contagious period is over.
So he can return to practice Thursday, and likely will want to play at Staples on Saturday. More drama … just what the raging rivalry needs.