Game 68; 38-24-6
LOS ANGELES - It was another in the Freeway Faceoff series between the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks. What some have recently said was a preview of an opening-round playoff martchup. these two SoCal rivals got under each other's skins right away. The tone was feisty, both teams showed a great level of intensity and above all, each team wanted bragging rights. But while it was an intense game, how things ended only further poured the fuel onto the fire.
Unlike on Thursday night, the Kings fell behind on the scoreboard to start things off. With goaltender Jonathan Quick sick, Martin Jones got the call between the pipes for Los Angeles and while he was good, he had no chance on the game's first goal. At the 13:01 mark of the opening period, the Ducks made a great offensively play where Mathieu Perreault fed Tim Jackman who roofed his fourth to open the scoring. But despite the goal against, the Kings outshot Anaheim 13-7 in the first 20 minutes.
In the second, the Kings continued their pressure and at 11:21, it paid off. There, with Los Angeles on the power play, Tyler Toffoli tapped in his 11th from Jarret Stoll and Alec Martinez to tie the game. But the lead was short-lived.
Just 51 seconds later, the Kings decided to have an uncharastic defensive lapse. The end result: an Anaheim goal courtesy of Patrick Maroon who netted his sixth of the year. But the Kings still outshot Anaheim (this time 16-8) as they entered the third.
While they were down, it appeared as if something good was going to happen for the home team. While they had a few missed chances and lacked on the quality of some shots, the Kings did play a patient game not letting their opponents sense any type of desperation. Eventually, Los Angeles's patience paid off - or so most thought.
Over halfway through the third, Anze Kopitar came streaking into the Anaheim zone and scored, hitting the top corner to tie the game. But not so fast. While the replay showed that Kopitar's shot did conclusively cross the line, the controversy was related to Marian Gaborik making contact with Anaheim netminder Frederik Andersen. On the replay, it shows that Gaborik made a conscious effort to stop so he could avoid contact. That is until the veteran was pushed into Andersen by a Ducks defenseman. Contact plays are not reviewable, thus this play was not reviewable. No goal.
While the Staples Center faithful went beserk over the non-call, the Kings continued to press. Unfortunately, they could not tie the game as they lost 2-1 which, fair or not, will be marred with controversy. The Kings had a missed call go against them in January in Detroit and they must deal with another blown call on this night. Those are two mistakes too many for a professional referee calling a game in what should be the most respected and revered league in hockey. But more on my feelings about that later.
For now, it's a second-straight loss for the Kings after winning eight-straight. Martin Jones made some key saves as this loss was of no fault of his. But the Kings must regroup for their St. Patrick's Day matchup against a team seven points behind them in the Pacific standings, the Phoenix Coyotes.
More on the no-goal later but for now, a bitter pill to swallow for the Los Angeles Kings.