It was a very anticlimactic end at the Honda Center to what was a great first Freeway Faceoff. Unless you were Anze Kopitar or the Los Angeles Kings.
The Kings stormed out of the gates, outclassing the Ducks from the drop of the first puck, thrashing them 6-2 in the process.
It was a relentless onslaught. One team wanted to be there, the other simply didn’t show up.
The Kings skated quicker, hit harder, forced turnovers and, with the help of rookie Ducks goalie John Gibson, put six past Bruce Boudreau’s men.
“This is our house,” was what was echoed throughout Anaheim on Friday night as the Kings breezed through to the Conference Finals, where they will meet the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Kings got four past Gibson in the first 22 minutes of the game, forcing Boudreau to make a change and bring back in Jonas Hiller, who was originally benched for Gibson.
“The first period was like men against boys,” Boudreau told ESPN. “They were bigger, stronger, more determined.”
The Kings were up 2-0 in the first when the Ducks were awarded a penalty. Corey Perry took the chance, but a quick-stick out by Jonathan Quick poked the puck away from Perry’s stick. Disappointment and the reality of losing Game 7 hit hard in the first period and never left.
Quick improved to 3-0 in Game 7s, saving 25 out of the 27 shots that were directed his way, on top of the penalty save.
After the constant pressure applied to the Ducks in the first period, the Kings stayed on top, never letting the Ducks get under their skates in their home arena. The big names that came out to play for the Kings, with Mike Richards and Justin Williams each scoring a goal and an assist for good measure.
“We knew this would have to be our best game of the series, and it was,” Anze Kopitar told ESPN.
With the win, the Kings move to 7-1 in elimination games over the past two years, 6-0 in this year’s playoffs.
“Really tough emotions right now,” Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf admitted to ESPN. “They came out and played the way they can play. They know what they’re doing in these situations.”
With the loss, the Ducks are bounced out of the race for the Stanley Cup, and the career of Teemu Selänne will most likely come to an end.
“It’s going to be a lot of happiness later, but it is hard right now,” Selänne told ESPN. “It was going to be ending in a great celebration or a big disappointment, and we didn’t get the win.”
The Chicago Blackhawks eliminated Los Angeles in five games last season, but the Kings are confident they fixed what went wrong in those playoffs and hope to not go out in the same fashion.
“It’s going to be a tough matchup. Chicago is a very, very good team as everyone knows,” Drew Doughty said to ESPN. “We’re a very good team, too. We know the things and reasons why we lost last year, so we need to fix those things.”
Game 1 is set for Sunday in Chicago and airs at noon on NBC.