The game is over. It had all the thrills and drama one could hope for. Neither team ever had more than a one goal lead, and it wound up being decided in sudden death OT, after a game-tying goal was scored with just seconds remaining. May 3, 2014 marked the first ever playoff game between two southern California based sports teams. In this second round Stanley Cup playoff series at Honda Center in Anaheim, the Los Angeles Kings defeated the Anaheim Ducks by a final score of 3-2 in front of a standing room only crowd of 17, 393. In the end, it would be 2014 trade deadline acquisition Marian Gaborik coming up huge for the visiting team. There was some physicality to the game, but overall not nearly as truculent as many expected.
The first period was a rather tight checking affair. The Kings drew first blood when Nick Bonino went to the penalty box for hooking, at 7:52. Kings defenseman Alec Martinez scored a power play goal at 9:04 to give Los Angeles a 1-0 lead. The lead was rather short-lived. At 11:41, Kings goalie Jonathan Quick seemed to get caught slightly out of position, and Matt Beleskey converted a Ryan Getzlaf pass to tie the score at 1-1 on what was the Ducks' second shot on goal in the game. Anaheim then began to carry the play much more than earlier in the period. Both goalies were solid. The first period ended with the score tied 1-1, and Ducks leading 7-5 in shots on goal. Los Angeles defenseman Robyn Regehr was injured in the first period, and did not return. The severity of his injury is not yet known. The second period continued the same theme. Quick had to come up big on a few occasions, and Jonas Hiller was solid in goal for the Ducks. Both teams registered 10 shots on goal, and the 1-1 score carried into the third period.
Teemu Selanne is in his final NHL campaign. The 43 year-old future first ballot Hall of famer looked to be the hero when he got loose down low, and put a backhand shot by Quick to give Anaheim a 2-1 lead at 8:08 of the third period. The Kings then began to apply pressure as Anaheim clung to the one goal lead as the clock ticked down. Late in the game, the Ducks wound up trapped in their own zone. Even so, it looked like they were headed for victory, and then lightning struck. With only 7 secs left in regulation time, and with the Kings having pulled the goalie in favor of an extra skater, Mike Richards found Gaborik in front of the Anaheim net to tie the score at 2-2. The teams lined up for one final regulation time faceoff, and those final few regulation seconds ticked away. Los Angeles outshot Anaheim 17-11 in the third period.
In the overtime period, both teams had some great chances. Key saves were made by both goalies, and then Gaborik struck again. With a line combination of Jeff Carter, Anze Kopitar, and Gaborik on the ice, Carter carried the puck behind the Anaheim net, and got it to Drew Doughty on the left side boards. Doughty deftly tipped it to Kopitar who had found some room in the high slot just above the faceoff circles. The Slovenian center spotted Gaborik cutting across the ice just above the goal line, and fed him the puck. Gaborik tipped Kopitar's perfect pass into the net behind Hiller. Gaborik's heroics came at 12:07 of the OT period. With that goal, Gaborik also became the first player in NHL history to have tied a playoff game with less than 10 secs to play, and then score the OT game-winner. Anaheim outshot Los Angeles 7-4 in OT. Final shots on goal 36-35 in favor of the Kings.
This was a great ending to a great game, and a great beginning to what should be a memorable series. Three stars of the game: #1 - Marian Gaborik (LA), #2 - Teemu Selanne (ANA), #3 - Jonathan Quick (LA).
Remaining series schedule - Gm2 (@ANA) Mon May 5, Gm3 (@LA) Thur May 8, Gm4 (@LA) Sat May 10, Gm5 (@ANA) Mon May 12, Gm6 (@LA) Wed May 14, Gm7 (@ANA) Fri May 16