Game 18 (9-6-3)
LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Kings open up their season series with the hated Anaheim Ducks on a positive note, coming out victorious by the skin of their tooth thanks to their first shootout win of 2011-12. The Kings now hold the upper hand in the home-and-home series as they look to duplicate their success tomorrow just down the road in Anaheim.
Tonight, the Kings had an energy unlike anything else seen so far. In the first period, they peppered Anaheim goalie Jonas Hiller with 17 shots, which was the most shots taken by Los Angeles in any period this season.
As alert and aggressive as the Kings’ offense was, Hiller was up to the task as it took a two-man advantage to solve the Swiss netminder. Mike Richards picked up his fifth on the year to give the home team a 1-0 lead. It stayed that way until late when Teemu Selanne scored on the power play, sending the game to overtime and ultimately the shootout.
Unlike last season, this year’s performance in the shootout hasn’t been one the Los Angeles Kings like to remember as they went 0-2 in the extra frame heading into tonight’s contest. Jonathan Quick, who had been shaky in his two shootout attempts thus far, was up to the task stopping six of seven shots to help his team to their second-straight win. Hiller, though, was also up to the task and it took a Justin Williams’ tally in the 7th round to decide the game once and for all.
With only 24 shots faced, Jonathan Quick wasn’t as tested as his counterpart but he made the big saves when he had to and kept them at bay even after surrending a deflating late-game tying-goal.
Overall, the Kings blasted 37 shots against Hiller and although the Ducks picked up their game in the third, the Kings dominated nearly from start to finish. The only downside, of course, is that they could only muster a single goal. That, however, was more the doing of Anaheim’s goaltender than it was a fault of Los Angeles’.
Actually, Anze Kopitar and Mike Richards led the way tonight with seven shots each, followed by Justin Williams with four and three others tied with three shots apiece.
Tonight also marked the season debut for Andrei Loktionov who looked in sync with his linemates Richards and Dustin Brown, the latter of which was all over the ice tonight working harder than I had seen him work in recent weeks.
It certainly was a nail-biter but the Kings prevailed and now move on to Anaheim where it’s no rest as the two teams pick it up again tomorrow night.