ANAHEIM – The Ducks got to this point largely because they beat the Kings four of five times.
The game plan did not call for a situation in which they would have to do it again.
But now they will. This 3-1 loss to the Kings in Game 2 was full of deceiving stats and straining near-misses. Game 1 was, too. The difference is the Ducks found promise in Game 1 and frustration in Game 2, and most of that is because the Ducks’ window of opportunity here is now narrowed down to a keyhole.
“The only thing we can take it out of this one is that we have to be better,” said Ryan Getzlaf, a captain rightfully chapped-off about the way his team performed.
“They play the same way we do for the most part. It’s a box-out mentality. Let your goalie handle the first shot. We had opportunities, we had rushes. We got in on our forecheck. We just didn’t score. Each guy has to outplay the guy next to him. We gotta ‘up’ our game.”
Instead, they played uphill, from the moment Marian Gaborik streaked down Ben Lovejoy’s right-defense side and was allowed to move in to beat Jonas Hiller, 34 seconds in, before most of the crowd had unwrapped the first pretzel.
The Ducks came back with about 10 minutes of indignant, passionate hockey that culminated with a 4-on-3 power-play goal by Corey Perry, on Patrick Maroon’s close-quarters feed. Drew Doughty was the penalized player and thus off the ice. He was on it far too often for the Ducks’ taste, and they did not score again.
They were given credit for 12 shots on goal in a second period in which the Kings basically got inside the Ducks’ tattoos. Jonathan Quick did stop Devante Smith-Pelly on a reasonably tough chance, but he could have updated his playlist the rest of the period, so routine was his workload. The Ducks could not make a pass that wasn’t ticked or nicked by a Kings’ stick, and they were kept far away from Quick, like fans behind a velvet rope.
A snapshot of that second period was Perry, crossing the blue line and seeming to find at least the rumor of some space … and then turning and running smack-dab into Trevor Lewis. The two collided and Perry slowly went to the bench, yearning for bigger ice or at least a smaller opponent.
The winning goal came on a shot by Alec Martinez that ricocheted off Jakob Silfverberg, late in the first period, but the Ducks had all night to match it.
“They’re getting the types of goals on us in this series that we got on them in the regular season,” Andrew Cogliano said. “Like on that goal, we had two chances to get it out, and it winds up in our net. And then they score on the first shift, which shouldn’t happen. But it seems like the roles have been reversed.”
“No matter how hard you’re trying to get it deep in the forecheck, they know how to close the door,” Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said.
The Ducks are now left with two days between games, and perhaps they will use a water gun, like the ear doctor uses, to get Quick out of their heads. Cogliano picked a puck from Doughty and had a close-in chance and backhanded it against his skate, and then had another shot at it and couldn’t find the net.
It seemed as if Cogliano had built a theory for beating Quick, postgame. Whether he can breathe life into that blueprint is not that clear.
“He just comes out and challenges you,” Cogliano said. “Hopefully you can get it behind him, maybe give him a fake, but he’s so aggressive that if you don’t show some puck-savvy and some patience, you’re not going to score.
“He puts everything on you. If you make a good play you’ll beat him, but if you don’t, he’ll beat you every time.”
And the problem with faking and holding the puck and using Quick’s brazen nature against him is that his teammates are never too far away to blow up your plan.
“It’s been the opposite of the regular season in a lot of ways,” Cogliano said. “We’ve had a lot of zone time, had a lot of possession. When guys aren’t scoring the way they want to, they have to go back and get some dirty goals.”
Or clean ones. During one stoppage of play, Perry took a bottle from the bench and squirted water into his glove. After further review, Perry actually squirted that water into Jeff Carter’s glove.
Carter’s team still won Games 1 and 2, and now the Ducks must wash their hands off both.
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