Ducks Clinch Western Conference
Posted by Rudy Martinez on Apr 13, 2014 - 3:00:32 PM
LOS ANGELES—Devante Smith-Pelly earned his best moment to beat the Kings and help the team stay on top. After scoring the lone goal in the second to put
Anaheim ahead a
Los Angeles fight to a shootout left him to score the game winner with a 4-3 score over the Kings at the
Center Saturday night. It became the first time in franchise history that
Anaheim held the top spot in the Western Conference.
Holding the Kings to just three wins this season, the Ducks wished to close out the series ahead in the seventh meeting between the cross town rivals.
Los Angeles knew that there could be a possible meeting with them again in the post season, but beating them for a fourth time in the Kings final game was an important one. Captain Dustin Brown got the agenda off to a great start where his wrist shot drive from the short side gave him 15 goals this year after Willie Mitchell’s pass was clean to beat Frederik Andersen in net.
The Ducks didn’t wait long to even it up as Nick Bonino pulled off an amazing backhander while down opposite the net where the puck lifted high enough into the air while Jonathan Quick was spread out on the ice. The game belonged to
Anaheim at the end of the game where their slight edge gave them an 8-5 lead on shots to the net.
Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Teemu Selanne come together to celebrate their clinching of the Western Conference.
The second belonged to the Kings offense being pushed back by the Ducks defense. Anaheim made a battle out of stopping 12 shots on goal where more than half were blocked by Andersen’s support out front giving the Dane a break from dealing with Los Angeles’ best attack of the game so far. While the success of the defense worked against them, the Ducks earned a lucky reward in the Kings zone where Hampus Lindholm took a shot from the right side of Quick where the puck tipped off the stick of Smith-Pelly near traffic to give him his second of the season. It was his first goal since October 31 and not the last of his season.
Down by just a goal, the Kings made a last rush for pride in
Southern California as holding the fourth win would be something to throw at the Ducks during playoffs next week. It began with Anze Kopitar skating into the center where he kept the puck away from the
Anaheim defense going around the net where he finished with a wrap around scoring the puck under the pad of Andersen to give him his 28th. It came just 48 seconds into the third period and showed that the Kings would fight from end to end. The Kings defense continued to hold the Ducks to as little as five shots; the last two periods and the same could be said for the duration.
Despite the low show of force on the puck possession, scoring wasn’t the problem the Ducks faced at all. Matt Beleskey made a steal on the boards in the neutral zone where he went one on one with Quick to snap the puck high over the glove to put his team back in the lead. Kopitar with his tremendous fight responded 45 seconds later with a wrister high on the slot to make it a 3-3 game that would need more time to decide a winner.
The Ducks controlled a majority of the four on four hockey in overtime, where three shots were blocked and caught by Quick to help time expire and send both teams to a second shootout with each other. Since losing the last against the Kings, the Ducks have been better against others which ultimately resulted in their success over the months.
Quick stopped shots from Nick Bonino, Richard Rakell and Corey Perry. Andersen also went 3 for 3 stopping Kopitar, Marian Gaborik and Jeff Carter. It came time for Smith-Pelly to take his chance against Quick and as he skated towards the center, he sent the puck high above Quick’s shoulder to put everything on Justin Williams. Williams’ best efforts to keep the game alive went unanswered, shooting wide and giving the Ducks a 4-3 win of the season series.
Anaheim’s second point was a bonus as the first point clinched their conference victory in the west for the first time in franchise history. Before they start their series against the Dallas Stars, the Ducks have one game against the Colorado Avs on Sunday who made playoffs as well this year. The fight in that game may not be necessary as the playoffs begin Wednesday for the fight of Lord Stanley’s Cup.