EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — Game 4 was a game where everything went right for the Kings and they still lost.
They shot the lights out and a kid that had played only a handful of games prior stopped every one of them. They controlled the puck for much of the game and kept Anaheim from shooting throughout the entire second period. But still, they lost.
But it’s not as much of a head-scratcher as one might think. It’s just the playoffs.
"Playoffs (are) different," said Kings defenseman Drew Doughty. "When goalies get hot, it’s tough to get pucks past them. The playoffs, I think a lot of it is just about scoring big goals. We were doing that early in the series and winning games that way, and they’re doing it now, in the later half of the series so far."
The Kings, now even with the Ducks at 2-2 and heading back to the Honda Center for Game 5, Monday night, did some good things that they want to continue to build on. Puck possession was one of them.
Ducks’ phenom John Gibson taking attention in stride
But they’ve scored just two goals in the last two games and it hasn’t been a high-scoring series to begin with. It probably wont – the Ducks blocked 25 shots in Game 4 and the Kings are one of the staunchest defenses in the league – but they will need some offense and they’ll need it to be timely.
"We want to have possession of the puck, we want to take control of the game like we did in the last two periods last night," Doughty said. "But we need to score big goals and we failed to do that."
Head coach Darryl Sutter says he has not yet determined who their goaltender will be Monday night. Jonathan Quick has started every game of the postseason and rookie Martin Jones has backed him up only twice.
While they haven’t quite figured out Anaheim’s new rookie goaltender, the third goalie they have seen in the series, it’s not about who the Ducks start as much as it’s about the Kings executing.
"For the most part, most of the goalies in the league are pretty much the same," Doughty said. "We have a little sheet that we have before every game, and it’s pretty much the same thing. He handles the puck well. He’s usually not good in traffic, like any other goalie, not good with screens and tips."
Rookie John Gibson dazzles in playoff debut as Ducks even series
"It’s not just ‘Go shoot the puck at the goalie.’ It’s not the way it works," Sutter said. "You can’t get it between second and short and second and first, and short and third. There’s a little bit more going on there."
They don’t plan to watch any extra film on Gibson. While Doughty said it might be helpful to consult some AHL attackers that have faced him, ultimately it doesn’t matter.
With everything even, what’s ultimately going to separate the two is the intangibles. Everything can go right for both teams but one will be more desperate.
"I don’t think we’ve played poorly, we just haven’t gotten to that desperation level we had against San Jose, where we were fighting for every inch on the ice," said forward Mike Richards. "I think we had to get back to that mentality. There have been a lot of one-goal games. Last night was a two-goal game with a bounce here or there. We know we can play better. I’m sure they’re thinking they can play better."