ANAHEIM, Calif. — According to Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau, Game 5 is the most crucial of them all.
It’s the most mental game of a seven-game series and the implications become much greater. As the Ducks and Kings prepare for the fifth game of the Freeway Faceoff series on Monday night at the Honda Center, Boudreau warned his team not to make the same mistakes they did in Game 4 — namely allowing the Kings to spend so much time in attacking zone in the later periods.
"Game 5 is the most important game to me," Boudreau said. "Whether you’re down 3-1 or whether it’s 2-2 — it doesn’t matter. Game 5 is the big game, I think. It really puts the team in a hole. The team that doesn’t have home-ice advantage wants this game so bad so they can win it at home. We believe they’ll play their best game this series."
According to Kings defenseman Drew Doughty, the best is yet to come.
"We haven’t showed them our best yet," Doughty said. "We’ve showed them here and there, like little spurts, but we haven’t showed our complete system in a game. So that’s our entire focus tonight and we need everyone to step up to the plate. It’s gut-check time now, we’re not up 2-0 anymore."
The Ducks recorded only three shots over the last two periods in Saturday night’s Game 4 victory at the Staples Center. But while the Kings dominated the possessions, it felt as though the Ducks had lost control of the game. It’s been a strange series in the sense that the team that has dominated the puck possession — a component that was said to be so important for these two teams before the series began — has lost all four games.
"We’re so familiar with each other as teams and as individual players," said Ducks’ left winger Kyle Palmieri. "It’s going to be something where those little breaks here and there are the difference."
"We think we need more than three shots in the last two periods to win," Boudreau said. "We’re just going over all of that right now, the things we don’t want to do after the things you do that are a positive."
Kings prepared to face any Ducks goalie in Game 5 READ MORE
Another big factor is first-period scoring. Through four games, the team that has scored first has won.
"Those starts are huge," Palmieri said. "Even looking back on Game 4 in the first couple minutes the Kings had some big opportunities to score and obviously Gibby stood on his head. Even if you don’t get that first goal it’s that momentum you have in the first period to build off of is pretty big."
Other morning skate notes
— The Ducks will return Mathieu Perrealt to the fourth line but Matt Beleskey and Frederik Andersen are still not even skating.
— Kings defensemen Willie Mitchell and Robyn Regehr are also not skating and head coach Darryl Sutter has given no updates on their status.
— Jonathan Quick was the first goalie off the ice for the Kings.