Game 4; Series tied 2-2
LOS ANGELES - If you were a fan of the Los Angeles Kings, chances are you were feeling very frustrated on this night. Like in Game 3, the Kings looked lethargic in the opening period. It would not get much better for the silver-and-black as the evening rolled along.
Also like in Game 3, the Anaheim Ducks opened the scoring. Their first goal was thanks to Devante Smith-Pelly before Ryan Getzlaf scored a power play gal just minutes later to put the Ducks up by a pair. The goal was especially rewarding for Getzlaf as this was his 29th birthday. Nevertheless, the Kings entered the intermission down by two. Fortunately, in these playoffs, the two-goal lead was arguably the least secure of any team. Sadly, someone forgot to tell that to the Kings.
To start the second, Los Angeles head coach Darryl Sutter made a change in goal, replacing Jonathan Quick with rookie Martin Jones. In the first, the Kings' defense left Quick out to dry on both goals. Of course, Quick did allow both goals on just 11 shots. But if changing netminders was supposed to wake the Los Angeles defense up, it worked.
In the second, the Kings gave up a grand total of zero shots while firing 12 on rookie netminder John Gibson on the other end. While he wasn't tested much, Gibson - who was making his playoff debut - was solid when he had to be.
The Kings came out in the second on a mission but just could not score. While John Gibson does deserve credit for his play, the silver-and-black simply did not crash the net, make quality scoring chances or do anything else in an attempt to rattle the rookie. Instead, the Ducks, while they didn't score again, stood tall keeping the Kings off the board.
They finished with twice as many shots (28-14) as the Ducks but it didn't matter as the Kings still got shut out. With the goose-egg, John Gibson became the first netminder to earn a shutout in his playoff debut since Boston's Andrew Raycroft in 2004.
After the first period, the Anaheim Ducks managed to register a total of three shots. How they did this and still win - much less get the shut out - should not be a testament to their team's success but a detriment to the Los Angeles Kings. When you summarize this contest, the problem for the Kings is simple: they start slow. Had they been alert for both mishaps late in the first, we might be going into overtime scoreless. Better yet, the Kings may have had more desire to score. Of course, you could possibly say the same thing about the Ducks.
Anze Kopitar even took a double-minor in the third which was both uncharacteristic of him and badly-timed. Dustin Brown and Jarret Stoll did lead the Kings with eight hits apiece but there wasn't much else to put a positive light on for the home team in this one. They managed 28 shots but like in Game 3, very few were quality scoring chances.
So far in this series, the road team has won every game. The Los Angeles Kings can hope that trend continues on Monday night when they return to Anaheim in an effort to get their series back on track.