Anaheim Clinches Western Conference in Win over LA

All Anaheim needed was a point in order to clinch the Western Conference, but they got two in a 4-3 shootout victory over Los Angeles.

“They all knew they just needed a point,” said Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau. “We never talked about it, but you could tell after the game was over, they all knew. Some of them were high-fiving each other. That’s a pretty big accomplishment for them. Then, we said, ‘Let’s go win it in a shootout.'”

The Ducks owned the Kings all year, going 4-1-0 in the five game series.   It is part of the reason why Anaheim took the Pacific Division, as well as the conference.g

“You never want a team to think they can beat you, and this year we’ve been able to handle them,” said Ryan Getzlaf.  “We’ve had years in the past where it was tough to beat them. It’s good to have that last win against them going into the playoffs, in case we have to face them.”

The earliest that would happen is the second round.  For now, the Ducks will meet Dallas in round one and the Kings will travel up to San Jose for their first round match up against the Sharks.  It sets things up for a possible Ducks – Kings series in round two, something that has never happened before between the two teams who already hate each other.

Frederik Andersen got the start in net for Anaheim, with John Gibson sitting on the bench as back up.  Jonas Hiller?  In a suit.  Ouch.

Boudreau says he is taking the goaltending decisions one day at a time, one game at a time.  So far, he’s making the right decisions.  (Sorry Jonas).

Dustin Brown struck first at 4:43 of the first period.  In one of those, “do they really pay attention?” moments, you had to wonder about Kings fans chanting “Hiller.”  Remember, he wasn’t even dressed for the game.

Regardless, the Ducks were able to tie things up with a “how did you do that?” goal from Nick Bonino at 6:14.  Bonino was falling to his knees with his back to the net and still managed to reach behind him and lift the puck up and over Jonathan Quick.

The Ducks took the lead when Devante Smith-Pelly redirected Hampus Lindholm’s shot on the net at 2:33 of the second period.

The Kings did not tie up the game again until the third period, with Anze Kopitar scoring :48 seconds into the final frame.    The game remained tied (all the Ducks needed was a single point to clinch the conference), but Matt Beleskey continued his scoring streak by putting Anaheim ahead once more at 15:13.

Kopitar got his second of the night at 16:48 to tie up the game and that was how it remained for the rest of regulation and then through a lively overtime period.   The game would not be settled until the shootout, however.

After no goals in the first three rounds, the shootout went to extra time as well.   In the fourth round, Boudreau called upon Smith-Pelly, who had never taken a shootout attempt.  It was another wise decision by Boudreau as Smith-Pelly nailed the puck behind Quick, who is the winner of the William M. Jennings Trophy for fewest goals against.

Now the Ducks play their final home game on Sunday against Colorado, who is trying to clinch the Central Division.

In other notes and musings:  Why did the Kings decide to wear the Stadium Series jerseys for their last home game?  Seeing as they were shut out by the Ducks in the Stadium game, it was a bit puzzling.

The other puzzling, but truly impressive thing was that the Kings honored Teemu Selanne prior to the game.    It was a classy move and came with a stand up paddleboard for Selanne to use during his upcoming retirement.  The crowd cheered the Finnish Flash as his career achievements were being lauded in the arena.    It is a tribute to Selanne as a person, not just as a player, to get that kind of recognition from the opposing rival team.   Bonus points to the Kings organization.

Also points to the person who came up with the idea to give Selanne a standing ovation every shift he plays in the third period against Colorado.  The hashtag is #thankyouteemu and seems to be gaining momentum.  It will be nice to see it come to fruition.


About Karen Francis

Just a diehard Ducks fan since 1995, when the team filled the hockey shaped vacuum in my heart.