Game 6; Series tied 3-3
LOS ANGELES - After the way they played for the majority of the last three games, fans were a tad worried about the Los Angeles Kings entering Game 6. But many more fans knew that this was a team who thrived when their backs were against the wall. That was evident last round versus San Jose and it continued on this night as the silver-and-black are now 5-0 in these playoffs when facing elimination thanks to their 2-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks in Game 6.
What hurt the Kings in games past was their knack for slow starts. On this night, however, there was no such concern. Matt Greene, who had been disappointing to say the least thus far in the series, leveled Mathieu Perreault with a crushing hit to get the Staples Center faithful to their feet. Unfortunately for Greene and the Kings, the big defenseman was called for interference. Despite being shorthanded, however, the Kings were able to kill off the penalty. Then, 49 seconds later, it was the silver-and-black who opened the scoring.
At the 8:16 mark of the opening frame, Anze Kopitar found Jake Muzzin in front of the net who one-timed a shot past netminder John Gibson to put Los Angeles out in front 1-0. Marian Gaborik continued his hot ways with the goal's second assist. The Staples Center was back on its feet.
After outshooting Anaheim 8-5 in the first, the Kings entered the second period on more of a mission. Unfortunately, the Kings took two penalties early, but grew stronger as they killed off both.
Later in the frame - at the 14:04 mark to be exact - Trevor Lewis added to the Los Angeles lead as he took a routine shot at the blue line that found its way through a baffled John Gibson. It was 2-0 and suddenly Anaheim's prodigy in goal looked human after all. Lewis had his fourth and with the lone assist, Justin Williams improves his total to 11 points in 10 elimination games with the Kings. But the celebration was short-lived.
Just 1:38 after Lewis's goal, Kyle Palmeiri cut the Anaheim deficit in half as he wrapped around the net, beating Jonathan Quick who was simply too slow to catch the Ducks forward.
After the Kings outshot the Ducks 8-7 in the second, they entered a critical final 20 minutes where the Ducks were nipping at their heels hoping to end their season. But the Kings were unfazed.
Despite being outshot 10-7 in the third, the silver-and-black were holding their ground against a Ducks team that suddenly seemed like they wanted to end this series right then and there. But the Los Angeles defense was solid and so was Jonathan Quick, who had a less-than-promising outing in Game 5. This was his night to redeem himself and he did.
Despite a late onslaught by the Ducks, the Kings held on for the 2-1 win to extend this series to a full seven games.
What we didn't see much of from the Los Angeles Kings in Games 3, 4 and 5, we saw plenty of it in Game 6 as Los Angeles played textbook hockey en route to their first home win in this series.
While no Kings finished better than a +1 rating on this night, eight of them ended the night with that rating. Jarret Stoll led the way for Los Angeles with five shots while Kyle Clifford, re-inserted into the lineup for Game 6, held a share of the team lead in hits with Jake Muzzin with five. Marian Gaborik, who has been one of the few consistent Kings over the past week, had more takeaways than giveaways (two to one) en route to his team's series-tying victory.
Overall, a very solid performance by the Los Angeles Kings and one that both the team and their fans had been wanting - nay, craving - for quite some time now.
So, this inaugural playoff meeting between these two Southern California rivals will sadly come to an end on Friday night. There, the Ducks will host the Kings at the Honda Center for Game 7 in a winner-take-all affair. You can be sure that with all of the hostility floating around in this series thus far, Game 7 will surely take the cake.
A great game by the Los Angeles Kings but fans can only hope that it is a precursor of what's to come, specifically for Friday night and the most exciting event in the lives of every playoff warrior.