LOS ANGELES – There was volleyball to the left of the rink, KISS in full makeup to the right. There were 54,099 fans, crowding a baseball stadium to watch an outdoor hockey game under the lights – in California, no less.
There was razzle and there was dazzle. There was Hollywood and marching bands and Jon Hamm. But for all of the unusual aesthetics of Saturday night’s Stadium Series game between the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks at Dodger Stadium, the Ducks won in a most unglamorous way: Great goaltending, better penalty killing and an enthusiasm dampening frustration of the Kings.
Jonas Hiller made 36 saves and Corey Perry, Matt Beleskey and Andrew Cogliano had the goals, as the Ducks defeated their division rival, 3-0.
The first outdoor NHL game in California began with temperatures around 62 degrees Fahrenheit, before dipping to 59 degrees by the end of the third period. The ice remained playable throughout the game, quelling fears about a game played after a day of LA sunshine.
Only twice was the ice possibly a factor: When Jeff Carter fell taking a shot for the Kings in the first, and when Cogliano flubbed a breakaway later in the game.
Corey Perry opened the scoring at 2:45, camped out in front of Jonathan Quick. Ryan Getzlaf took the shot, and the puck squeezed through his goalie pads; Perry tucked home a loose puck in back of the Kings goalie. (The goal came seconds after Eric Cartman, the Kings’ unofficial animated mascot, welcomed LA fans to the game.)
The Ducks made it 2-0 on a fluky goal by Matt Beleskey. Teemu Selanne roared into the Kings zone, and Nick Bonino took the puck behind the net. His pass in front deflected off a hard-charging Beleskey for his fifth of the season.
Moments later, Ben Lovejoy hooked Anze Kopitar, and the Kings star was given a penalty shot. Kopitar missed on the shot, glancing it off Hiller’s left pad. It was the first penalty shot in an outdoor game since Danny Briere missed against the New York Rangers in the third period of the 2012 Winter Classic.
The Ducks led 2-0 after the first period, and then through an uneventful second period, save for this fight between Tim Jackman and Kyle Clifford that got the crowd roaring:
After the second, Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf was interviewed on the stadium PA, addressing the boos of Kings fans: "We're going to try and keep these guys quiet."
The Ducks were effective in doing so in the third as well.
Things got testy 1:43 into the third period, when Kyle Palmieri pushed Alec Martinez into Quick and was given a goalie interference penalty. Quick, incensed, skated over to the corner where there was a scrum between the skaters and stuck his glove in the face of a few Ducks, including Francois Beauchemin.
The Ducks, however, killed the power play, as they would all night: The Kings were 0-for-4 with the man advantage.
Cogliano iced the game with an empty-net goal. The Kings fans were quiet. The outnumbered Ducks fans chanted “BEAT LA.”
A few seconds later, the horn sounded and vivid pyrotechnics filled the air for the next 25 seconds.
The action on the ice didn’t provide fireworks, thanks to Hiller and the Ducks’ penalty kill. But at least fans were greeted with some as they exited a history-making night for hockey in California.