ANAHEIM, Calif. — Monday night at the Honda Center, the Kings played Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals like it was Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals.
They’re backs might not be against the wall anymore but playing that way has resulted in six straight wins, the latest a 3-1 effort over the Ducks that gives them a 2-0 lead on Anaheim in the series.
"I think that’s kind of the way to approach just about any situation," said Kings defenseman Alec Martinez. "You’ve really just got to take it one game at a time and focus on playing good Kings hockey each and every game and pay attention and focus on the process itself, not just the outcome."
But the Ducks aren’t looking ahead either. Instead, they’re trying to look back and find what it is that has gone so wrong with one of the top offensive units in the league.
"I’m ticked off right now," said Anaheim captain Ryan Getzlaf. "We’re in playoff time right now. There are no excuses for anything. We have to be better, I have to be better and I expect our group to respond."
The Ducks have scored just three goals in two games, despite outshooting the Kings in the series. There have been chances — they outshot the Kings 37-17 in Game 2 — but Jonathan Quick, the goaltender Anaheim seemed to have few problems with during the regular season, has completely shut the offense down.
"We found a way to squeak one out because we have the best goalie in the world in our goal," said Kings captain Dustin Brown. "They had the better chances, more shots, more opportunities … Jonathan Quick just finds ways to make saves."
"He comes out and challenges you," said Ducks center Andrew Cogliano. "He’s so aggressive, if you don’t show some patience or little puck savvy, you’re not going score on him."
Marian Gaborik scored just 34 seconds into the game, effectively setting the tone for the rest of the way. It was Gaborik’s sixth goal of the playoffs — a league-high, and Anze Kopitar was on the assist to earn his league-leading 14th point.
Gaborik, a Columbus castoff branded a selfish sniper, scored just nine goals in 34 games with the Blue Jackets. Since being acquired by Los Angeles 28 games ago, he’s scored 11.
Anaheim’s top two in Getzlaf and Corey Perry were once again relatively quiet on the ice.
"It was not the start that we expect from our group, especially us up front," Getzlaf said. "That’s not the way we can start a hockey game. That’s on us. We tried to work and get back it after that. You can’t sulk on those things."
The Ducks had it tied up on a Patrick Maroon power-play goal momentarily but it was short-lived as Martinez scored the game-winner less than three minutes later.
The Kings stopped the barrage of shots throughout the rest of the game. Clearly frustrated, the game escalated from chippy to heated – a slash on Kings defenseman Drew Doughty’s leg was evidence — but still the Ducks couldn’t get anything behind Quick.
Kings looking like rulers of SoCal with win over Ducks
Late in the third with goaltender Jonas Hiller pulled for the extra attacker, a bad pass by Cam Fowler was picked off by Dwight King in the waning seconds and he threw it into the empty net to doom the Ducks.
The series moves back to the Staples Center Thursday.
"Yeah, we’re depressed right now. But we’ll build ourselves up," said Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau. "We’ve been there, that’s why we believe we can accomplish this. We’ve gone on lots of streaks against good teams and been successful. Obviously we’re playing a good team that’s peaked at the right time, but I think we’ve got the capabilities to dig in deep and doing what we need to do."