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VIDEO: Ducks Power Past Crosstown Rival Kings
By Julius Choi
The Anaheim Ducks came into Friday’s game against the Los Angeles Kings winning four of their last six games. This marked Anaheim’s last game of the season while the Kings have one more game left. With the lone loss coming against Calgary last Friday. Anaheim’s 21-year-old defenseman Brendan Guhle returned to the lineup for the first time since March 5. Goaltender John Gibson manned the net for Anaheim while the Kings decided to have Jack Campbell mirror Gibson on the other end of the ice.
It seems odd to watch the regular season game between these two franchises unfold with seemingly nothing on the line except pride. This did not, however, mean that this matchup was anything less of exciting. Just eight minutes into the game with no team to crack the scoresheet, Adam Henrique issued an open-ice friendly fire hit on Devin Shore which perfectly captured this season and the fanbase’s emotions in a nutshell. Four minutes later, the Los Angeles Kings were up 1-0 on a shot by Michael Amadio that went through the wickets of defenseman Korbinian Holzer and a late sliding Gibson. The scoring play unfolded like a game of pinball. Gibson made a save with his left pad on Austin Wagner on popped back out to Matt Roy on the right point. Roy fired a shot on goal that Gibson deflected with his right pad which served as a nice pass and rebound opportunity that Amadio delivered on for his sixth goal of the season. This seemed to awaken the Ducks’ counter-attack as Max Jones won a 50-50 puck battle outside of the crease of Campbell who then filtered a backhand pass to an unguarded Carter Rowney in the slot. Although this tally knotted the game at one apiece, Rowney’s impact was felt all throughout the first period as he won three of his four faceoffs.
Referees of NHL games get flak for the calls they miss and make all season long but there were a few questionable noncalls. Just under four minutes into the middle frame, Kings defenseman Paul LaDue had his hand over the puck while in the crease which should have warranted a penalty shot but there was no whistle. However, some justice was restored when Korbinian Holzer snuck behind a sleeping L.A. defense and punched home a shot on a pass from Jones that would give Anaheim their first lead of the night, 2-1. This was Holzer’s first goal of the season, who missed a majority of the season due to a wrist injury. The Ducks never let go of the gas pedal on offense as Shore raced into the Kings’ zone along the right side boards and found Daniel Sprong on a drop pass. Sprong had enough time and space to fire a one-timer to beat Campbell glove side to double the Ducks lead heading into the second intermission.
The momentum carried into the third period for Anaheim as they scored while shorthanded with 11:27 left in regulation. Jakob Silfverberg parted the red sea that was the Los Angeles defense, working his way from the left wing boards to the slot to find a ready Sam Steel on the weakside doorstep of Campbell for the score. The Kings would come up with a consolation goal from the hands of Carl Grundstrom on a one-man effort. Grundestrom pranced across the crease to score and showed shades of Bobby Orr with a midair celebration. Silfverberg put the icing on the cake with an empty netter to set his new career high in goals for a season with 24. Anaheim won 5-2 to close out the year.
The Anaheim Ducks won 11 of their last 17 games to finish with 80 points in the 2018-19 campaign. Corey Perry played on the top line with Ryan Getzlaf and Nick Ritchie which was a good sign to see. It has been quite a while since we’ve seen the “twins” share a line and become the cornerstones of the franchise since joining forces when they started their career together to form the kid line with Dustin Penner back in the Cup-clinching 2006-07 season. Tonight’s game was a good indicator of what’s to come in Anaheim as the youth was able to use this game as a confidence builder. No youngster took full advantage of this than Max Jones who shined as a facilitator. In 12:44 of ice time, Jones tallied two assists while trying to generate offense of his own with four shots on goal.
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April 5th, 2019