ANAHEIM, Calif. -- It was an unintentional, but understandable slip for Kings forward Justin Williams. Standing in the visiting dressing room at Honda Center after a 3-2 OT loss to the Ducks, he discussed different elements of LA’s game that need to be fixed come postseason time.
“The last two games in this building we’ve given up third period leads, which come playoff time we know is a recipe for elimination,” Williams said. “It’s something we obviously have to look at. We need to shut those games down.”
But for Williams and the Kings, the playoffs are not a foregone conclusion. It feels like they never are until the final game of the regular season anyway, but it’s certainly nowhere near a definite for these Kings, whose formula for victory seems to be teetering more this year than the past. Then again, can you blame Los Angeles, which has won two of the last three Stanley Cups, for some level of confidence?
Thursday’s game against the Ducks was LA’s game in hand on Calgary. And the Kings stayed ahead of the Flames by the slimmest of margins with 82 points to Calgary’s 81 with 12 games remaining for each.
The recipe for a win was there for the Kings against Anaheim. It looked so vintage. A massive Dustin Brown check midway through the first period knocked Corey Perry off his game. Jeff Carter flicked his wrist and put the team up 1-0 mere moments later.
Jonathan Quick had some sort of magic hex around his net that prevented the Ducks from converting any major scoring chance. Anze Kopitar was swatting Ducks with one arm.
But maybe there’s something different about the Kings this year as much as it is about the Ducks basically getting a star in Super Mario the third period of every game they play and using that power against Los Angeles on Wednesday. Anaheim has outscored its opponents 81-59 in the third frame of the season.
Patrick Maroon knotted the game at 1-1 just 45 seconds into the third period and Jakob Silfverberg put it at 2-1 at the 7:35 mark before Williams’ desperation goal with 4:14 remaining to make it 2-2 before Ryan Kesler’s score in OT.
“We had a 1-0 lead and had to climb back in the game late. It’s something we probably need to address,” Brown said.
Does Los Angeles not have the magic mojo that has propelled it to two of the last three Stanley Cups? It’s one game in mid-March. And with this team, we won’t know until the playoffs – maybe.
“Our overtime and shootout record is terrible, but either way, that’s not going to deter us from making the playoffs,” Williams said.
Again, there is much confidence in Williams’ words – which there should be, based on the extreme amount of recent success for this team.
There’s more of a survivalist instinct with the Kings than one of domination – which is what you need in the playoffs … if you make it.
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