Game 3; LA leads series 2-1
LOS ANGELES - They returned to Staples Center with the momentum looking to gain a 3-0 series stranglehold on the Anaheim Ducks. But the Los Angeles Kings, winners of their previous six outings, got off to a shaky start in Game 3 and early on, it cost them.
Just 4:06 into the contest with the Kings shorthanded - courtesy of a Trevor Lewis interference penalty - the Ducks capitalized as Corey Perry scored his third of the playoffs and first of the postseason to give road side the early lead. Patrick Maroon and Ryan Getzlaf supplied the assists. The Ducks carried that lead - and 10-9 shot advantage - into the first intermission.
In the second, the home team struck even. 4:59 into the frame, with the Kings on the power play, Marian Gaborik fed Jeff Carter who made no mistake, one-timing it past Frederik Andersen to tie the game. The goal was Carter's third of the postseason with Anze Kopitar getting the second assist. But later in the period, the Ducks regained their lead.
The Ducks found themselves on the power play with just under five minutes to go in the second when it looked as if Los Angeles would kill off their penalty and escape unscathed. Unfortunately, a quick defensive lapse broke Nick Bonino out on a 2-on-1 where he made a perfect feed to Teemu Selanne who tipped it past Jonathan Quick to score. The goal was the 43-year-old's second of the series.
Despite holding a 10-7 advantage in shots in that second period, the Kings trailed after 40 minutes.
Anaheim goaltender Frederik Andersen, who had made his first start of the series after Jonas Hiller lost Games 1 and 2, went down halfway through the third with an apparent lower-body injury. The Danish backstop did what he could to shake off the affliction but could not. With that, Andersen left the game and in came Hiller who was looking to redeem himself. But despite the Kings outshooting the Ducks by a 12-5 margin, they really couldn't generate many scoring chances on either netminder.
The Ducks were able to get some insurance courtesy of Ben Lovejoy, who snapped his second of the postseason past Quick with just 2:55 remaining in the third.
With the empty net, Mike Richards was able to get his first of the playoffs, slapping a shot past Hiller to make it 3-2. But it was too little, too late as the Los Angeles Kings drop their first game of the series while saying goodbye to their six-game winning streak.
While most losses can be discouraging, Game 3's certainly doesn't leave many fans anxiously awaiting Saturday's Game 4. While I am confident that the Kings will come out with a better effort on Saturday, Game 3 was a display of Los Angeles's mid-season doldrums where, despite recording a plethora of shots, only generate a few quality chances. While the status of Frederik Andersen is unclear at this point, the Kings cannot afford to let Jonas Hiller regain his confidence. While he wasn't at his best in the first two games of the series, the Kings should know very well just how lethal the Swiss netminder can be against the silver-and-black.
While it was in a losing effort, Mike Richards finally finding the back of the net should give the veteran a jolt in confidence. One would hope anyway. Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik also continued their respective hot streaks. With his assist in Game 3, Kopitar is now on a 10-game point streak, which is just two shy of Wayne Gretzky's team record of 12 set during the 1993 playoffs. Gaborik, meanwhile, has now collected points in his fourth-straight game - although Game 3 marked the first time in this series where he was unable to score a goal.
Defenseman Jeff Schultz, in his second game with the Kings, amassed 19:58 of ice time while registering one shot and three hits. Five Kings also finished the evening of the right side in the plus/minus category.
Overall, it was a slow start by the Los Angeles Kings and it hurt them. They will look to get off to a more auspicious start on Saturday when these two rivals meet back at Staples Center for Game 4.