So this is what happens when the Kings get lured into a track meet…
If you can find two more opposite styles of play in the Western Conference than the Nashville Predators and Anaheim Ducks, good luck. It was clear Saturday that Anaheim has taken Bruce Boudreau’s preachings of uptempo hockey to heart. The result: seven goals — two against Jonathan Quick, four against Jonathan Bernier, and an empty-netter by Teemu Selanne — and a 7-4 victory for the Ducks.
It was the perfect antidote to the Kings’ 2-1 shootout loss at home against Nashville on Thursday — perfect in every regard except the win column.
Fourth-line center Nick Bonino logged his first NHL hat trick. He got the Ducks on the board with two goals in the game’s first five minutes, 49 seconds. On the first, he embarrassed Jake Muzzin with a toe-drag move through the slot before lifting a backhand past Quick. On the second, Bonino curved around the net, shot as he fell to the ice under pressure from Drew Doughty, and somehow saucered the puck underneath the stick of Rob Scuderi and the pad of Quick.
Darryl Sutter decided he’d seen enough from Quick, who stopped just one of the three shots he faced. Bernier came off the bench to make his first appearance of the NHL season — his first appearance anywhere since playing in Germany during the lockout.
The Kings responded with a power-play goal at 9:15, when Dustin Brown completed a tic-tac-toe passing play from Doughty and Anze Kopitar. Thirty-four seconds later, Jarret Stoll scored at even strength off a nice feed from Simon Gagne to tie the game 2-2.
Ryan Getzlaf gave the Ducks a 3-2 lead at 13:30 with his third goal of the season, made possible by a no-look pass from Corey Perry as he circled behind the net.
The Kings could not take advantage of 50 seconds of 5-on-3 time to start the second period, but Brown evened the score at the 1:15 mark by tapping in a rebound past Jonas Hiller.
The teams traded goals the rest of the period. Sheldon Souray’s one-timer on the power play put the Ducks ahead 4-3 at 9:35. Justin Williams bounced a shot off Hiller’s mask for his first goal of the season, tying the score at 14:12. Kyle Palmieri one-timed a shot past Bernier on the power play at 16:14 to give the Ducks a 5-4 lead.
Bonino completed the hat trick at 8:39 of the third period with Kopitar in the penalty box for holding. The Ducks got four power plays and scored on three of them.
It was a startling result for a Kings defense that had so far weathered the injuries to Matt Greene and Willie Mitchell with aplomb. Muzzin was badly exposed on Bonino’s first goal, and there were simply too many Ducks wide open around the net all night.
Adding injury to insult, Davis Drewiske was struck near his left eye with a Bobby Ryan pass with 7:31 left in the third period. He skated off on his own power, immediately left down the tunnel to the locker room, and reappeared on the bench minutes later.
The result obscured the many positives for the Kings’ moribund offense. Williams played well and was rewarded with his first goal of the season. The Kings outshot the Ducks, 34-25, and held a big edge in scoring chances (unofficially).
More in tomorrow’s editions.