Game 1; LA leads series 1-0

ANAHEIM – Of all the times the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks met, enhancing their already-intense rivalry, never were the two clubs pitted against each other in the playoffs. But that all changed on Saturday night when the Kings, fresh off their series comeback against San Jose, visited the Honda Center to take on a Ducks team fresh off eliminating the Dallas Stars in the first round.

After wondering which netminder would start the series for Anaheim, it was discovered that the veteran Jonas Hiller would get the nod over Frederik Andersen. The decision was critical as goaltending played an important factor in Game 1.

Despite the Ducks being the home team, there were enough Kings fans in attendance that, had fans listened to the game via radio, it would have been very difficult to tell who had scored given the cheers were so loud for both sides. But first, it was the silver-and-black who got the taste of scoring.

At 9:04 of the first period, Alec Martinez potted his first of the postseason from Marian Gaborik and Anze Kopitar to put Los Angeles out in front. But the Ducks were not fazed. In fact, they answered quickly.

Just 2:36 after Martinez’s goal, Matt Beleskey got Anaheim on the board with his second of the playoffs from Ryan Getzlaf and Cam Fowler. After those two quick goals, there wouldn’t be any more scoring until nearly halfway through the third.

In the third – at the 8:08 mark to be exact – it was the 43-year-old who supplied the damage. Teemu Selanne potted his first of the spring past Jonathan Quick to give the Ducks their first lead of the night. Patrick Maroon and Ryan Getzlaf assisted on the goal. It seemed as if the ageless veteran delivered the final dagger of Game 1. But not so fast.

Despite trailing late, the Kings were outshooting and outplaying the Ducks, but they couldn’t capitalize. That is, of course, until the dying seconds when Marian Gaborik’s fourth tied the game with just seven seconds remaining. Gaborik jumped on a Mike Richards rebound to get it by Hiller. Anze Kopitar recorded his second assist of the night on the goal.

This game was heading to overtime where the Kings were 0-1 and the Ducks were 1-0. It didn’t matter.

At the 12:07 mark of the first overtime, Marian Gaborik struck again, cashing in on his second of the contest to win the game for Los Angeles, giving them a leg-up in this series. Again, if fans listened via radio, they might have been a bit delayed not knowing which team had sure. But alas, it was the silver-and-black. Drew Doughty assisted on the game-winner as did Anze Kopitar who assisted on all three goals.

Overall, the Kings had outshot the Ducks 36-35 which went to show just how critical the goaltending was in this game on both sides. While Quick and Hiller both made critical saves, none were bigger than in the overtime session, especially for Los Angeles’s backstop who paved the way for his team’s win.

After struggling out of the gate in this playoffs, Jonathan Quick has turned his luck around, since finding himself in a groove. On this night, he made 33 saves en route to the victory. But just as much credit is warranted for Jonas Hiller who, in his first start this postseason, turned away 34 shots in a near-win for the Ducks.

On the downside for the Kings, defenseman Robyn Regehr left the game early with an undisclosed injury. His status is unknown at this point but with Willie Mitchell already sidelined, the Kings had to endure with an especially-depleted defensive unit on Saturday that saw both Drew Doughty and Slava Voynov log over 30 minutes.

Outside of Regehr’s injury and the uncertainty of both he and Mitchell for Game 2 on Monday, the Los Angeles Kings could not have asked for a better night which saw them display their usual resiliency and tenacity en route to what is now their fifth-straight win in these playoffs.

With the Game 1 victory, the Kings have taken away home-ice advantage from the Ducks (assuming they didn’t already with their fans invading the Pond). On Monday, the Kings hope to turn the home-ice advantage pendulum completely in their favour as they vie for a 2-0 series lead.