The Ducks traveled up the 5 Freeway and lost 4-1 at the hands of the Los Angeles Kings to cap off a five game road trip that the Ducks were able to come away with two wins.
This was another one of those games where the Ducks came out strong but ran out of steam and fumbled the rest of the game. The Ducks and the Kings were playing pretty much even for the first half of the period, and then the Ducks started to generate more chances. The Ducks would control play until just under five minutes left in the period. That is when the Kings started to take control of the game. The first period would end with shots on goal being in the Kings favor 12-11, and the Ducks had a 0.81-0.78 xGoals at 5v5, according to MoneyPuck.
The second period was when the wind was taken out of the Ducks’ sails, a lot of it being self-harm. The Ducks took three penalties in the second period, and one of them resulted in a powerplay goal. After Adam Henrique got booked for tripping, Drew Doughty got the Kings on the board with a one-timer in the high slot for the powerplay goal. Gabriel Vilardi was screening Lukas Dostal, so Dostal did not have much of a chance to make the save.
The Ducks would also respond later on the powerplay when Frank Vatrano whacked in a rebound from a Kevin Shattenkirk shot. This was Vatrano’s second goal in his last three games after going 20 straight games without a goal.
The Kings would continue to dominate the period, and they controlled play the rest of the way, creating scoring chance after scoring chance, but Lukas Dostal came up big yet again. The Ducks successfully killed off two more penalties, thanks to Dostal.
Then with just 21 seconds left in the period, Alex Iafallo finds himself wide open in front of the net, and Philip Danault connects with him from below the goal line for the easy tap-in. Trevor Moore skated with the puck along the wall from behind the net, which drew John Klingberg to leave his position to apply pressure. Still, Klingberg never makes his way back to position after Moore passes the puck, forcing Vatrano to try and cover for Klingberg, but Vatrano does not get there in time. That made it 2-1 Kings going into the third period.
The Kings ended up outshooting the Ducks 16-5 in the seconds period. Taking three penalties in one period will do that.
Just over three minutes into the third period, Arthur Kaliyev connects with Viktor Arvidsson on the two-on-one to take a two goal lead at 3-1 Kings. Klingberg got caught trying to search for a loose puck but got burned.
Then Kevin Fiala unleashed an impressive individual effort to beat Nathan Beaulieu and Vatrano on a partial break and backhands it past Lukas Dostal to make it 4-1 Kings. Granted, Vatrano was without a stick because his broke, but it is still very impressive nonetheless.
The Ducks would go on to lose 4-1, and the Kings outshot the Ducks 41-25. The Kings had a 2.39-1.26 xG at 5v5, but with all the penalties the Ducks took, it was 4.12-2.19 in all situations.
The penalty kill for the Ducks killed four out of five penalties, but the defense was poor, forcing Dostal to stand on his head throughout the game. On the other hand, the Ducks powerplay only capitalized on one of their five opportunities. The first powerplay unit for the Ducks did not have it tonight, and the second powerplay unit showed some functional hockey. Hence, Dallas Eakins decided to roll with the second powerplay unit more than the first tonight.
Going back to Lukas Dostal, he was once again outstanding. Dostal stopped 37-41 shots, and even though he gave up four goals, Dostal still ended up having a 0.12 goals saved above expected. Dostal made some nice saves on all of the powerplays that the Kings had and on some breakaways where he kept his poise. If Dostal keeps this up, he will make a tough decision about what to do with all of the Ducks goaltenders when John Gibson and Anthony Stolarz come back from injury.
Now back to the negatives, the third defensive pairing of Beaulieu and Shattenkirk struggled immensely. Both have struggled all season long but tonight was noticeable. Shattenkirk is responsible for two out of the five Ducks penalties and does not move well or make smart decisions.
The Ducks return home tonight, facing the Minnesota Wild at Honda Center at 7:00 p.m. PST. With this being the second game of back-to-backs, it could very well be the NHL debut of Duck’s goaltender Olle Eriksson Ek.