Ducks capitalize on Kings' miscues
It was that kind of night for the Los Angeles Kings, uncharacteristic on so many levels for the NHL's stingiest regular-season team.
Turnovers and mistakes.
And the Anaheim Ducks jumped all over them in a 4-3 Game 5 victory Monday night at Honda Center, finding the kind of open ice and second-chance opportunities rarely seen in this series for either team.
All four lines scored goals for the Ducks, representative of the team's depth but also its calling card when playing well, an unrelenting, four-wave attack that doesn't let the opponent come up for air.
What you saw on this night is why the Ducks finished first in the Western Conference this season.
As much as this team will always be led by Getzlaf and Corey Perry up front, what has allowed this organization to grow into a contender over the past two seasons has been the development of the supporting cast.
"You see the games we win in the playoffs so far, we've had balanced scoring," said Bonino, whose Ducks now lead the series 3-2. "We had it Game 5 last series, we had it tonight. You know what you're going to get from Getz and Perry and their line. When we can chip in with some goals and get goaltending like we got, you know you're going to have success.''
Added Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau: "It's just something that's been going on all year, we need that depth to score. Sometimes it's not that difficult to check one line. But if you've [got] four lines with the ability to score, usually you come out ahead."
Consider what a Western Conference head coach from a rival team told ESPN.com back on May 4, the day after the Kings lost Regehr, having already been without Mitchell at that point.
"It's not so much that they've lost high, high-end defensemen, it's what they're putting in," he said.
"Matt Greene is limited. And whether it's Jeff Schultz or Andrew Campbell going in, either way, they don't trust those guys as much. Where the biggest disadvantage comes for L.A. is that Anaheim will continue to play four lines. So over time it will be become taxing to the Kings' top guys. ... If they were playing against a three-line team it wouldn't be as much an issue, but Anaheim I think will keep rolling four lines and that's going to make it more taxing on L.A.'s D-men."
Is that wear and tear showing through now? Martinez inexplicably just passed the puck right to Getzlaf outside the Kings' blue line, and the Ducks captain quickly counter-attacked on a two-on-one break to feed Smith-Pelly with a lovely pass, and the kid did the rest.
"I made a bad play," Martinez said, taking full responsibility.
"A player can't make that play, that's for sure," Kings head coach Darryl Sutter said.
Muzzin, meanwhile, was credited with four giveaways on the night. Overall, the Kings were sloppy with the puck in the second period, especially when a 1-1 game turned into 4-1.
Just not what we're used to seeing from this group.
"We got away from our game," Martinez said. "We gave up too many chances and they capitalized. You can't give good hockey clubs like that chances, and that's what we did. They capitalized."
You can't ignore the John Gibson factor for a second straight game. The Ducks' rookie netmidner didn't get another shutout but he looked very sure of himself again, swallowing up pucks and appearing ultra-confident in backstopping his team to another victory.
The glove save on Tyler Toffoli early in the game just made you say wow. His series of saves during a goal-mouth scramble in the second period, Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar both denied after a pair of shots apiece, raised the roof at Honda Center. He stopped 39 of 42 shots and very much looks the part.
"I think he [Gibson] is the best goalie I've ever seen," Sutter responded sarcastically when asked about Gibson. "I can't believe we even got one by him tonight.''
Then he added: "A lot of pressure on him now. A lot of pressure."
Not sure Gibson even knows what pressure is, to be honest.
He wasn't the only kid in the spotlight, though. The 21-year-old named Smith-Pelly had another impact game, he has been dynamite since being put on the top unit with Getzlaf and Perry.
"I'm just trying to keep it simple," Smith-Pelly said. "The first one just went off me obviously and it was just a great play by Getzlaf there. I'm just trying to go hard and go to the net, and good things are happening right now."
"We're just having a lot of fun," Smith-Pelly said with a smile. "It's fun to play in the playoffs. This is what you dream about when you're growing up. We're just trying to enjoy it and so far it's going pretty well."
Smith-Pelly spent most of the season with AHL Norfolk. Gibson and Vatanen were in Norfolk just last week. Now they're all part of this three-game win streak, putting them one win away from the Western Conference finals.
They're not playing like the playoff stage is too big for them.
"Norfolk's not happy," Boudreau said, jokingly. "But those guys have come up and all of them have played such big roles. You look tonight, Gibson second star, Smith-Pelly first star, Vatanen was playing 20 minutes the youth is really carrying us right now. They're solid, solid NHL players."
And finally, there was a victory by the home team in the Freeway Series. The Kings now have to hold court Wednesday night at Staples Center to extend their season. They're pretty good at that, having gone 4-0 last round with their season on the line. But the difference between the opponents is that the Ducks have faith in their goaltending now. That wasn't the case with the Sharks.
Having sandwiched a pair of three-game losing streaks in these playoffs around a season-saving, six-game win streak, the Kings need a new streak.
"We just have to come out and play," Kings captain Dustin Brown said. "There's no secret recipe. We know what we have to do. We have to execute our X's and O's and the other stuff is emotional, stuff you can't really teach."