Kings defeat Ducks 4-3
Monday, 06.18.2012 / 10:45 PM
ANAHEIM -- For two months, Brad Richardson toiled. Tried to do the dirty work on the fourth line, skate hard and bring energy. And, at the end of each of his first 26 games, Richardson had nothing tangible to show for it.
Finally, at the end of Tuesday's game, Richardson could look at the score sheet and find his reward. Richardson had his first points of the season, including the game-winning goal late in the third period, as the Kings outlasted the Ducks and won 4-3 before 14,231 at Honda Center.
Richardson entered the game without a point this season. His previous distinction had been as the player hit hardest when a case of flu ran through the team in mid-October. But Richardson had been playing well of late, and when the Kings needed a boost the most, Richardson was there.
Richardson tipped in a slap shot from Jack Johnson
with 2:20 remaining in the third period to send the Kings to victory in their first game against the Ducks this season. Richardson, who also had a second-period assist, had his first multi-point game since March 1, 2007, when he played with Colorado.
``It's been a long time coming, for sure. I just tried to shoot the puck and stay positive, and I knew eventually it would come,'' Richardson said. ``I just tried to create some traffic, and luckily I got a tip on it.''
After the game, surrounded by reporters, Richardson drew good-natured cheering and ribbing from his teammates, who were excited for Richardson and relieved for themselves. The Kings improved to 10-0 when leading after two periods and improved to 6-1-1 against Pacific Division rivals.
Given the tightness of the Western Conference playoff race, every point could end up being critical in April, and for a while Tuesday, it seemed as though the Kings would dominate the majority of the game but only get one point, or perhaps none.
Late in the second period, the Kings led 3-1 and were controlling every aspect of the game, outshooting the Ducks by a wide margin and seemingly cycling the puck at will in the offensive zone.
Then, some bumps. Richardson took a high-sticking penalty, off a faceoff, with 4:35 remaining in the period. With 15 seconds left in that power play, Wayne Simmonds
took an ill-advised roughing penalty.
Just two seconds after the 5-on-3 advantage ended, but before Richardson could get back in the play, Ryan Whitney scored. From there, the Ducks took momentum, carried it into the third period and tied the game 5:29 into the third when Todd Marchant scored on a rebound in front.
Losing the game, after controlling it for 35 minutes, might have been devastating for the Kings, who are trying to make the playoffs for the first time since 2002.
``(Losing) would have been really deflating, I think,'' Simmonds said. ``It's a division rival, it's a four-point game, and that was a huge win, definitely. We've got two wins in a row here, and we'll just look to build off that.''
Simmonds, of course, breathed a sigh of relief after the game, since his penalty had helped turn the tide in the Ducks' favor for a while.
``My heart was in my throat the rest of the game, after that,'' Simmonds said. ``Luckily, Richie came through, and the rest of the team came through, and they bailed me out there.''
Richardson could hardly been more of an unlikely hero. Acquired by the Kings, for a second-round pick, from Colorado in the summer of 2008, Richardson played only 31 games last season, the product of a bizarre foot injury and coaches' general displeasure with parts of his game.
Handed a fourth-line role this season, Richardson, whose game is more about speed than grit, has improved throughout the season and seemed to particularly click with Simmonds and Scott Parse
``Obviously, these are big games for us, the crosstown rivalry, so I'm real happy for him to get that goal,'' said Johnson, who had two assists. ``He's had a lot of chances and he's been playing well for us, so great for him.''
The Kings did suffer a loss, as Brandon Segal, who had been playing well in a fourth-line role, suffered a lower-body injury late in the first period and did not return.
But, with the exception of the Ducks' third-period flurry, the Kings did a lot of things right. They scored a power-play goal for the first time in five games and generated 14 shots on the power play, the same number they had totaled, combined, in their previous four games on the power play.
Kings goalie Jonathan Quick
made 27 saves, as the Kings outshot the Ducks 42-30, the first time all season they had topped the 40-goal plateau.
``I thought we did a fine job in the offensive zone,'' Kings coach Terry Murray said. ``We were cycling, getting pucks to the net. That's a great team. They know how to win. They're a Stanley Cup winner. They've got one of the premier lines in the game. That's the way it went here tonight.
``Hopefully it goes that way for us over the next games, but it's a long haul and that's a great team down the hallway.''
This was the deepest into the season the teams had gone without playing each other since the 2003-04 season, when they didn’t play for the first time until Jan. 7, 2004.
The Kings got an early power play Tuesday and didn't score, but did get four shots on goal and gain some momentum, which paid off a few minutes later.
Simmonds did some nice work along the boards in the Ducks' zone, then fed a perfect, backhand centering pass to Scott Parse
, who got free in the slot and beat Hiller with a wrist shot 5:11 into the game for his second goal of the season. The Kings were outshooting the Ducks 7-1 at that point.
The Kings took a two-goal lead on a power-play goal, after a four-game drought on the power play. Dustin Brown
did a good job of carrying the puck in the Ducks' zone, Jarret Stoll
took the point shot and Justin Williams
deflected the puck right in front of the net, with 8:27 left in the first period.
The Ducks pulled within one goal with 5:19 remaining in the first. James Wisniewski took the point shot, and Corey Perry skated in front of deflected the puck past Quick. Perry now has at least one point in 19 consecutive games.
After the Kings did a great job of chasing down the puck in the offensive zone and cycling, Randy Jones
' slap shot 6:40 into the second period gave the Kings a two-goal lead again. Richardson and Johnson got assists.
After dominating almost all of the second period, the Kings lost their two-goal lead with 2:32 remaining. Simmonds took his poorly timed roughing penalty to give the Ducks a two-man advantage for 15 seconds. Just two seconds into their 5-on-4 advantage, the Ducks scored on a Whitney one-time shot, after a pass from Ryan Getzlaf.
The Ducks tied the game 5:29 into the third period. Matt Beleskey's long-rang shot was high, and Quick came up to make the save, but the puck bounced off his chest and into the slot. Marchant beat Matt Greene
to the front of the net and knocked the rebound past Quick.
That set up Richardson's game winner, which was initially credited to Johnson.
``He had a good game tonight,'' Murray said of Richardson. ``He's been playing pretty well in the last half-dozen games, I think, using his speed. I've used him on the left side and in the middle. He's responding to the opportunity. He's playing much better. He's stronger on the puck, he's making things happen along the boards, coming up with more pucks than he did last year.
``The play that happens, on the winning goal, it's just getting to the net. I thought Stoll made a tremendous play. Lots of composure to pull the puck out of nothing and make a play back up top. And then the two defensemen. But Richardson was in the right place. The puck is going to end up there, and he was there waiting for it. So I was happy for him. He had a strong game here tonight.''