The Kings won a fifth elimination Wednesday night at the Staples Center to even the Western Conference Semifinals with Anaheim and force a decisive Game 7.
Their record in Game 7s? It goes without saying. The Kings are a very tough out.
Trevor Lewis – who scored all of six goals in the regular season – scored his fourth postseason goal in the second period when he sliced a somewhat soft shot right at Gibson and it squeaked right though his legs. It was just enough to give the Kings a 2-1 win.
With their backs against the wall once again, this is when the typically-stoic Kings are having the most fun.
"We certainly don’t want to be playing in Game 7s but at the same time, they’re a pretty cool experience to be playing in," said Kings captain Dustin Brown. "We knew this one was going to be a long series."
After three games where everything went right for the Ducks, this one was a struggle right from the start.
Jake Muzzin scored in the first period giving the Kings the all important statistic factor: The team that has scored first has won each game of the series.
"Every team, every player talks about that first goal and there’s a reason for it," said Kings defenseman Drew Doughty. "It puts the pressure on the other team, it’s puts them on their heels and builds momentum for our team so we need to get that first one next time."
Kings make Quick work of Ducks in LA; force Game 7
"It’s hard to play from behind against these guys," said Ducks right winger Corey Perry. "It’s why it’s important to come out and get that first goal and get the lead and play with the lead. They’re a different team when they’re behind."
It wasn’t just the first goal – the penalty kill was exceptional, the defense crowded the slot and forced the Ducks into shots from the outside allowing for some easy saves for Jonathan Quick and Los Angeles effectively neutralized the big threats of Perry and Ryan Getzlaf.
"The PK won us the game tonight," Doughty said. "We took too many penalties. I don’t know how many we had, but with how talented that power play is, we’re not going to win too many games that way."
The Kings killed off five power plays, with the Ducks unraveling more and more with each opportunity.
Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau said it succinctly: "It stunk."
"Did we even get any shots?" he asked, only slightly rhetorically. "Nothing on any one. We didn’t move the puck very well and we didn’t support it very well. We’ve been good for the most part but it’s back to the drawing board.
In the second period, Lewis’ five-hole goal gave the Kings a 2-0 lead momentarily but Kyle Palmieri beat Jonathan Quick on a textbook wraparound attempt a few minutes after Lewis’ goal and the Ducks cut the lead to 2-1.
Palmieri’s goal was the only bright spot in what was arguably the Ducks’ worst performance of this postseason.
"I wouldn’t think that everybody played their best game," Boudreau said. "(The team) wanted to win tonight. You never wait until the seventh game – look what happened to Boston. You want to win it when you can and we didnât get it done. We’ll get better and weâll get ready and weâll play a hell of a game on Friday…
"To think that this was devastating is ludicrous."
While it’s true for most teams that waiting until the seventh game is flirting with fire, the same can’t be said for this L.A. Kings team. It’s the Kings who are usually starting with fire.
This was the eighth time the Kings have forced a Game 7 when trailing 2-3 in a series and they’re now 7-2 in elimination games since 2011.
"These games are so fun, it’s the games you dream about playing in," Doughty said. "This is when the best players play their best and that’s what makes the Game 7s so much fun to watch for fans and so much fun to play in for the players."