The Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings dropped the puck on Saturday night, kicking off the cross-town rivalry known as the Freeway Faceoff. The Kings entered the game with a record of 2-2-2 and the Ducks with 4-1-1. Given that the Kings won the Stanley Cup last year, and the Ducks didn’t even make the playoffs, most people might have predicted that these records would be reversed. While still early in the season, both teams seemed to have found themselves in unexpected territory so far this season.
The Ducks can credit a large percentage of their winning record to getting help from unexpected offensive sources.
In Friday night’s game against the Minnesota Wild, Kyle Palmieri scored two goals in the Ducks 3-1 win. Palmieri is in his third season with the Ducks and it was only his second career multi-goal game.
In the first week of games, no Duck put up better numbers than offseason acquisition, Daniel Winnik. Winnik, who played for both the San Jose Sharks and Colorado Avalanche season, only scored eight goals total season. However, in his first four games in a Ducks uniform, Winnik netted a total of five goals: two against Vancouver (7-3 win), two against Calgary (5-4 win) and one against Nashville (3-2 win).
In the first period Saturday night, Nick Bonino, playing in his fourth NHL season, scored two goals in the first six minutes. They were his first goals of the season and it marked the first multi-goal game of his NHL career. Assisting Bonino on both of his goals was Emerson Etem. The Ducks drafted Etem, a native of Long Beach, CA, in 2010, while the draft that year was being held at Staples Center in Los Angeles (home of the Kings). For Etem, who just made his NHL debut on Tuesday against the Sharks, these would be the first points on his NHL career.
“The line’s just been working hard, focusing on getting it in and that’s where the goals came from,” Bonino claimed.
However, that wouldn’t be the only scoring in the period. The Kings got goals from Dustin Brown and Jarret Stoll and the Ducks got another from Ryan Getzlaf, giving the Ducks a 3-2 lead at the end of the period.
The scoring trend continued into the second as the Kings got another goal from Brown and one from Justin Williams. Meanwhile, the Ducks continued to get help from the unexpected.
Sheldon Souray scored on a slaphot from the point. So far this season, Souray is the only defenseman to score for the Ducks so far this season.
Later in the period, Palmieri kept his weekend scoring streak alive, getting his third goal in two games. So far in his career, Palmieri’s highest goal total in a single NHL season is four. He’s already at three this season and only seven games in.
Optimistically, Palmieri stated, “There’s no real number I’m going for at all, but I’ll just keep working hard and I think good things will happen.”
The Ducks led 5-4 at the end of the second, but given the number of lead changes in the first two periods, it was obvious this game could go either way.
However, the third period ended up favoring the Ducks.
Bonino scored his third goal of the game, completing his first career NHL hat-trick.
“It feels good!” Bonino declared. “I can’t really describe it. I haven’t scored a ton of goals in my career so far, so it feels really good to get three here.”
Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau added of Bonino, “He’s got that kind of skill. It might not happen every night, but he’s always got the potential to break it out and get a couple goals”
Teemu Selanne capped off the game with an empty-netter in the final few minutes, giving the Ducks a 7-4 victory.
The Ducks will strive to keep their win streak alive, and continue to find new and unexpected offense, as the homestand continues on Monday night against the San Jose Sharks.