A win and two points is always a good thing. When those two points come at the expense of your Pacific Division rival, the Los Angeles Kings, they seem even sweeter.
The Kings, who have been strong for most of the season, have faltered of late, losing six of seven games going into their first game of the year against the Ducks. Anaheim has had more swings this season than LA, but had also lost six of their previous seven going into the game. Most importantly, the Ducks single win was their previous game and they took that momentum and confidence into Monday night’s game and capitalized on it.
The Ducks were able to shut out the Kings, 2-0, the first time shutting them out since November 16, 2008.
“That’s the type of game our hockey club has to play night in and night out,” said coach Randy Carlyle. “It was a good one for us. We feel good about ourselves because we won a big hockey game. We had an effort from every member of our group. That’s what is important.”
It truly was a team effort, but goaltender Jonas Hiller shone brightly by stopping 27 shots, including a spectacular “how did he do that?!” save against Anze Kopitar in the waning minutes of the game. There was no question Hiller was in the zone and deservedly the #1 star of the game.
“He made some key saves and some great saves and some timely saves,” observed Jason Blake, who scored one of the Ducks goals. “They really took it to us at times and Jonas bailed us out.”
No matter how good Hiller was, the Ducks still had to score in order to win the game.
Dead even through the first half of the game, the score finally changed midway through the second period. Although the Ducks and Kings are usually lively, penalty filled affairs, there was only one penalty – coincidental fighting majors – before Drew Doughty was sent to the box at 10:33 of the second period for tripping.
Apparently he liked his view from the box so once he exited, he committed another tripping foul on Corey Perry in the neutral ice and went back in, the seat still warm from his recent stay.
After Cam Fowler scored :07 into the second penalty, Doughty probably would have preferred to stay in the box.
Fowler, who turns a mere 19 next Sunday, got his second goal of his career and first on the power play at 12:48. Teemu Selanne, back in the line-up after missing three games with a sore groin, won the face-off, got it to Lubomir Visnovsky who gave it to Fowler. Fowler finished it off by angling the puck off the post and in behind Jonathan Quick.
After that, the Ducks had a difficult time putting a puck on the net at the Kings end. When they did finally get their chance, they finished it off. A turnover by Jack Johnson gave Blake and Selanne a 2 on 1 breakaway. Tic-tac-in the net, 2-0 Ducks and the sold out building erupted joyously with 2:24 left to play.
Mind you, if Hiller had not stopped Kopitar’s shot a minute previously, the game would have been tied up and things would have ended up quite differently.
Instead the Ducks hung on for the victory and flip flopped with the Kings, topping them in the standings for the first time this season.
“We found a way and didn’t back off,” Hiller said. “We can be happy with this win and it’s something we can build on.”
Next building opportunity is Wednesday at home against the Florida Panthers.