First Freeway Faceoff of the year between the Ducks and Kings. Never a dull game, despite how each team is doing. They always manage to bring their highest energy to the game, players and fans included.
Of 109 match ups between these two teams, #109 went to Anaheim, who soundly defeated their division rivals 7-4.
Offense was not lacking. Defense was on the Kings side.
After Nick Bonino scored the first two goals of the game in 5:49, Jonathan Quick was replaced in net with the other Jonathan, Mr. Bernier. Quick only stopped one of three shots, so coach Darryl Sutter decided to make the change.
Dustin Brown got a power play goal at 9:15. Jarret Stoll tied up the game at 9:49. Halfway through the first and the two teams had only just begun.
Ryan Getzlaf was left unimpeded in front of the net to put the Ducks ahead once more at 13:30.
Going into the second period, the Kings had a 5 on 3 opportunity. They barely missed capitalizing on that, but Brown still got the 5 on 4 goal at 1:15 to tie the game up again.
A couple minutes later both Bryan Allen and Jordan Nolan were fighting, but in the corner was Cam Fowler, who had been smacked into the boards by Stoll and then dogpiled on by the Stoll, the referee and another player. Fowler took a while to get up and then went straight to the locker room with much needed assistance. Fowler did not return and was listed with an "upper body" injury.
"He obviously is not feeling very well right now,” said coach Bruce Boudreau after the game. “We haven’t determined exactly what it is. If you saw the replay, Stoll hit him pretty good from behind. And I can understand why the refs didn’t call it. One was getting taken out. There’s another fight going on. But surely, you know, I saw the numbers when Stoll hit him. It was right from behind. They have to have to look at that. He might be OK tomorrow or he might be out for a while.”
The Ducks managed just fine with five defensemen, and if Fowler is out for a while, Sami Vatanen is able to step in.
The back and forth scoring continued in the second period. Sheldon Souray got a power play goal at 9:35, powering his shot through Bernier's arm and body. Justin Willias tied it up again at 14:13.
Naturally, it was the Ducks turn to score next and Kyle Palmieri gave the Ducks the final go-ahead goal at 16:14 that stuck as the game winner. It was his second game winner in as many nights. It also made the Ducks 3 for 3 on the power play. They missed going 4 for 4, but barely.
Bonino got his first career hat trick at 8:39 of the third period to make it 6-4. At that point, Bonino, on the fourth line, had logged in a mere 7:31 of ice time. Very efficient.
"It's huge," said Bonino, who had been demoted from the second line. "I've kind of been a little dry all season. Trying to get on the board. The line's just being working hard, focusing on getting it in. That's where the goals came from. It's always nice beating the Kings."
Yes. Yes it is nice!
Teemu Selanne got his Satanic career goal (#666) with the empty net at 17:54. Bonino added an assist to his night's production on the goal.
At that point, Kings fans, who had been vocal and spirited all night, threw in the towel and went home.
"We were not hard in the areas that we're known to be hard to play against," Brown said of the Kings, who are now 14th in the Western Conference to start their defense of the Stanley Cup.
The Ducks were given a day off on Sunday, so they, too, could enjoy the Super Bowl, and they will be back at it on Monday night when the San Jose Sharks come to town. The Sharks lost in overtime for the first time this season and are no longer undefeated.
In other notes: Emerson Etem assisted on Bonino's first two goals, earning his first two NHL points.