The LA Kings and Anaheim Ducks finished their “Freeway Faceoff” series on Saturday night with the Kings playing to solidify their likely playoff berth and the Ducks trying to hold on and end the season respectably.
Mostly, the Anaheim effort was worthy, though they came up on the short end of a 4-2 final.
LA got the first goal of the game almost dead-on the halfway point of period one, Arthur Kaliyev putting up his 14th of the year. Trevor Zegras and Jerry Mayhew scored for the Ducks in period two. The first of those goals came on a cross-ice pass from Getzlaf that Zegras whipped past Anthony Stolarz.
“Z” immediately pointed to the Captain, playing in the penultimate game of his career, with a plan to retire after Sunday’s home game. Zegras may have been pointing to Getzlaf for this goal, but he was just as much pointing out so many similar passes over the years. Getzlaf now sits on 736 assists, many of them just like this one.
At another point, Getzlaf carried a puck across the crease and onto his backhand, but Jonathan Quick foiled him. He also stymied Troy Terry on the rebound, sitting in a full splits as he so often does and simply absorbing the puck.T
Toward the middle of period two, the Ducks briefly took the lead on a massive Quick miscue. Mayhew lugged the puck up ice and through center, then dumped a flip into the LA zone. Quick, down on a knee, tried to send it right back up ice with a pass. Only the puck didn’t cooperate, bouncing over his stick and in. Quick has started a number of games in a row of late, pretty much suggesting that Coach McLellan has decided on him as his playoff netminder over Cal Petersen. Who knows if this miscalculation would have changed that idea, had the Kings gone on to lose.
They didn’t. It took just two minutes for Matt Roy to tie the game, on a slapshot from the point as he moved into the play. The Kings then went on to score two more goals, including a late PP marker, to get the win. On goals two and four, Anze Kopitar got assists 46 and 47 of the year, the first being his 700th career helper. This total, and obviously the year is not done, puts him up into the range of his best seasons. His all-time high was 57 assists in 2017-18.
The final two goals were scored by the “Alexes,” Edler and Iafallo. For the latter, that makes 17 goals, with twenty thus being well within range if he had a hot night. His goal came with 24.1 seconds left and the Kings up six players to four on a power play and goalie pull.
After the game, the LA coach said of the playoff race, “Feels like we’re getting close, and again it’s the same thing—we’ve maintained control of our position. We’re going to want to continuing to do that through Thursday.”
When asked about the bad goal, he said it might have even been better that it went in that way than as a good goal, because, “The way Quickie’s played for us, the guys wanted to buckle down and play for him. It’s the sign of a good team and of guys playing for one another. Got through it.”
After the final whistle, various Kings players hung around to give Getzlaf a final congratulations. He staged many furious battles with them over the years, though despite the Freeway Faceoff marketing push, his greater battles were probably with the Joe Thornton-led San Jose Sharks.
Coach McLellan commented on his continued dominance in games involving the Kings. “He came into the league competing like that, and he’s not out yet . . . . He’s a nemesis to our club here, but we’re also going to miss him because he does a lot for the game, and the game in Southern California in general. I thought it was appropriate for [Brown, Kopitar, and Quick] to have their moment with him, because they’ve all been going at it for a number of years.”
LA now rests until Wednesday, when they have an appointment with the Kraken in Seattle. This win was the fourth straight for goalie Quick, and none better than his contest last Tuesday, which I described at IH by saying that his second period might be the best one I’ve ever seen him play, and I’ve seen a lot of them, including his Conn Smythe winning playoffs of 2012, which as everyone knows netted the Kings the first of their two Cups. (Justin Williams was MVP of their other Cup campaign, in 2014.)
The Ducks move back down I-5 to play the St. Louis Blues in their final home game, and Getzlaf’s final time putting on the skates. This should make for an emotional Sunday evening. The game starts at 5:30pm local time.
Brian Kennedy is a Member of the Professional Hockey Writers Association