Late-night reading …
It was a goaltenders’ duel at times, a test of wills at others, and frequently a bone-jarring matchup of teams looking ahead to the Stanley Cup playoffs. Mostly, though, it was a game in which a bounce here and a deflection there determined the outcome.
The Kings squeezed past the Ducks 2-1 by the barest of margins, with Mike Richards slotting a perfectly-placed shot into the back of the net for the decisive goal late in the second period Saturday night at Staples Center.
Ducks goaltender Viktor Fasth later said the puck glanced off the nob at the end of his stick and then into the back of the net while the Kings were on a power play at 19 minutes, 2 seconds of the middle period. It was Richards’ 11th goal of the season.
“I didn’t see much when he shot it,” Fasth said after making 16 saves in the fourth and final regular-season game between the Southern California rivals. “I basically went down to get the ice (covered), but I have to work harder to track the puck.”
The Kings dominated the first period and the Ducks controlled the play for most of the second. The teams appeared destined to head to the third period tied at 1-all, but Richards sent his laser past Fasth for a power-play goal at 19:02 of the second.
The first 40 minutes were uneven and disjointed, but entertaining nevertheless.
Defenseman Drew Doughty sent a two-hopper by Fasth to give the Kings a 1-0 lead at 10:10 of the opening period. His perimeter shot from straightaway appeared to hit two sticks before find the back of the net and setting the tone for a one-sided first period.
The Ducks evened the score on a brilliant individual play by team captain Ryan Getzlaf. First, he blocked a shot from defenseman Jake Muzzin while the Kings were on a second-period power play. Then, he beat Kings goalie Jonathan Quick to the loose puck.
Finally, Getzlaf skated around Quick and fired the puck in to the vacated net for his team-leading 14th goal and his fourth career shorthanded strike. Quick might have been wiser to stay in his crease and await the hard-charging Getzlaf rather than try to beat him to the puck.
The Ducks scored an apparent goal moments later, with the puck ricocheting into the net off a backhander from Long Beach native Emerson Etem that struck the crossbar and then hit Bobby Ryan. But the goal was waived off after a video review in the NHL’s War Room in Toronto.
Moments later, Andrew Cogliano collided with Quick behind the Kings’ net and then had a chance to put the Ducks ahead while they were shorthanded. Cogliano, trailing the play after he and Quick untangled, suddenly broke free on a breakaway.
Quick deflected his backhand try, however.
Cogliano was forced from the game near the end of the first period after what appeared to be a knee-to-knee hit at center ice from Kings captain Dustin Brown. Cogliano needed help to reach the dressing room, but he returned for the start of the second period.
“Both teams were playing solid defensively,” Doughty said. “I know we weren’t hitting the net very often, which was a big reason why we weren’t creating (scoring) chances. Both teams were checking hard and playing well defensively and making sure they weren’t making mistakes.
“When two teams are doing that … it’s hard to create.”