On Boxing Day, the Ducks, after having four days off on their seven game road trip, traveled an hour to Staples Center to take on division rivals, the Los Angeles Kings. In their first meeting on November 29th, the Ducks shut out the Kings 2-0 at the Honda Center, as both teams were struggling after having lost six of their last seven games each. Having picked up some momentum, the Kings went into tonight’s game, 15th in the NHL and third in the Pacific Division, while the Ducks were 18th in the League and one point behind the Kings in their Division.
Though the two teams are close in record and points, the Kings’ had the home ice advantage tonight before a sold out crowd at Staples Center and their largest attendance this year. The Kings have the best record in the NHL at home with 12-2-1 and they weren’t about to relinquish that title just yet. The Ducks, on the other hand, give up the most shots per game in the NHL and this game was no exception.
The game started out fast-paced and equally matched with both teams exuding lots of energy and enthusiasm after several games off, but to be honest with you, though, it was also kind of a boring first period. Had the Eagles and the Vikings not been postponed until Tuesday, I probably would have been watching them instead. One thing I did notice, though, is that Lemonheads has a dasher board at the Staples Center right in front of the team benches. Not sure how Lemonheads benefit from advertising at hockey games, but I thought that was pretty awesome. I love Lemonheads!
The second period was more or less a shooting clinic put on by the Kings with goals by Wayne Simmonds, Anze Kopitaur, Justin Williams, and Dustin Brown. The Kings’ first goal came just 15 seconds into the second period and the Ducks answered about 30 seconds later with a goal from left winger, Matt Beleskey, who was just recalled from the Syracuse Crunch earlier today. The Kings went on to score thre unanswered goals that resulted in Hiller getting pulled and McElhinney taking his place in between the pipes.
Other than an assist by Getzlaf and Corey Perry’s scuffle with Wayne Simmonds (can’t really call it a “fight”) the Ducks’ big four (Getzlaf, Ryan, Perry, and Selanne) remained pretty quiet. George Parros had his scripted fight halfway through the second period with Kyle Clifford and then got stuck into the penalty box. Although the guy does what he’s supposed to do, Parros really needs to also learn how to play team hockey too. Yes, his fighting is beneficial and a necessity, but he puts up few other stats than PIM. And the Ducks’ defense needs to be more concerned about stopping shots than having them. Visnovsky, Lydman, and Fowler have 23, 15, and 11 assists respectively, but allow more shots than any other defense in the NHL, including 30 tonight by the Kings.
Tonight was definitely a frustrating game for Ducks’ fans to watch as the Ducks lost their fourth of their last five games. A small ray of light is that the Ducks didn’t give up a third period lead like they have the last several games they’ve lost.
The Ducks and the Kings clash again on February 23rd at the Honda Center for their third of six meetings. The Ducks headed to Phoenix tonight for their Tuesday game versus another Division rival, the Phoenix Coyotes.
The Pens’ lost to Sergei Gonchar’s Ottawa Senators, but Sidney Crosby managed to maintain his 24 game points streak, scoring the Pens’ only goal with 3:22 remaining in the game.
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Written by KARLY TAMBARA