Waiting for a postgame radio interview in a Honda Center hallway, the Kings captain leaned against a wall, his eyes closed, clutching a towel draped around his neck.
Brown stood, emotionally and physically drained, probably not knowing exactly what to make of what had just transpired on the ice, when the Kings rallied from a three-goal deficit to beat Anaheim 5-4 in a shootout Tuesday night.
In earning two points, and moving into sixth place in the Western Conference with three games remaining, the Kings practically played two games.
In the ``first,’’ they trailed the Ducks 4-1 in the middle part of the second period, their starting goalie pulled from the game, their penalty kill faltering.
In the ``second,’’ they outshot the Ducks 16-3 in the third period, scored the tying goal with 1:09 remaining and got outstanding goaltending from Erik Ersberg in overtime.
The Kings celebrated the win, naturally, but perhaps scratched their heads as they did.
``It's one of those games, again, where we don't come out as we should out of the gates, and we battled back in the end,’’ said Anze Kopitar, who scored the decisive goal in the third round of the shootout, three days after the Kings lost to the Ducks in a shootout.
``We all realize that's not going to take us (far), but it's two points right now, and it's good to know that we can come back in these situations. It just shows the character. We clinched the playoffs, and we could easily just let this one slide and maybe get ready for the next one, but we battled back and it's a good feeling.’’
The Kings outshot the Ducks 40-21 for the game, won the season series 4-1-1 and officially eliminated the Ducks from playoff contention, but in a helter-skelter game, it was somewhat fitting that coach Terry Murray identified some unlikely heroes.
``It was a difficult game for us,’’ Murray said. ``But our line of (Raitis) Ivanans, (Brad) Richardson and (Rich) Clune got us going. I thought they gave us some very big shifts in the first period, when we were kind of feeling our way around and seeing how the game was going to go.
``Those guys, in each one of their shifts, were in the offensive zone, strong, cycling, giving us energy, and then our captain did a great job taking the puck hard to the net, with sheer determination, to get us started on the board with that first goal. It took us a while to get going, but again, I give the credit to the Richardson line, with Clune and Raitis here tonight.’’
Once again, though, Murray had to answer questions about his goaltending.
Starting goalie Jonathan Quick, who sat out two games last week out of the Kings’ desire to get him sharper through extended practice time, was pulled from the game less than three minutes into the third period after allowing three goals on eight shots.
``Well, it looks like his concentration is off a bit here,’’ Murray said. ``At this time of the year, we're just going to have to have him going. It's a critical position, and he will bounce back. He's been through these kinds of looks at different times of the year, and he has always come back and responded the right way. I expect that for the next game.’’
Ersberg allowed a soft second-period goal, which made it 4-1 Ducks, but was outstanding in overtime, with seven saves, and earned his first victory since Dec. 9.
``I think they had more shots in overtime, in five minutes, than they had in the rest of the game that I played,’’ Ersberg said. ``It was just a matter of time, if we were going to be able to come back.’’
The Kings have made a habit, this season, of rallying in the third period when trailing, and on Tuesday, the Kings turned in perhaps their most dramatic comeback.
Alexander Frolov scored an important goal, with 3:19 remaining in the second period, to make it 4-2 Ducks. Justin Williams pulled the Kings within one, 7:56 into the third, and Michal Handzus scored the tying goal, off Williams’ pass, with 1:09 left in regulation.
``I think, as the game wore on, our confidence was just growing and growing and growing,’’ Williams said. ``It's really good, between the second and third period, when you're down and the team is still upbeat and believes that they can come back. That's what we had tonight. We just knew it was going to come.’’
The Kings, who clinched a playoff spot on Sunday when ninth-place Calgary lost, played their first game as an official playoff team, and it certainly didn’t start well.
The Kings failed on a power play within the first four minutes, but the Ducks capitalized on their first power play. Bobby Ryan passed, from behind the Kings' net, to Jason Blake, who was all alone in front of Quick and scored 5:28 into the first period.
The Ducks took a 2-0 lead with 3:12 remaining in the first period. Blake made a nice cross-ice pass, past Sean O'Donnell, to Teemu Selanne. Quick stopped Selanne's first shot, but Selanne picked up his own rebound and scored from close range.
Ryan's goal, 2:01 into the second period, gave the Ducks a 3-0 lead. Quick stopped the puck behind the Kings' net, and Randy Jones played it but had it taken away by Ryan, who scored before Quick could get back into position.
At the next whistle, at the 2:49 mark of the period, Ersberg replaced Quick in goal. The Ducks scored three goals on eight shots against Quick.
The Kings got on the board 9:46 into the second period. Brown carried the puck into the Ducks' zone and got around James Wisniewski and got to the net. Ducks goalie Curtis McElhinney poked the puck away, but Brown picked up his own rebound and knocked it into the net to make it a 3-1 game. Drew Doughty got an assist.
The Ducks regained their three-goal lead with a power-play goal with 7:41 remaining in the second period. Lubomir Visnovsky passed over to Selanne, who beat Ersberg with a one-timer from the middle of the left circle for his second goal of the game.
The Kings scored a power-play goal, with 3:19 remaining in the second period, to make it 4-2. Brown shot from the top of the left circle, and Frolov was credited with the goal after a deflection apparently went in off of Ducks defenseman Aaron Ward.
The Kings cut the Ducks' lead to 4-3 at the 7:56 mark of the third period. Williams took the puck to the net and, after McElhinney went down, Williams showed great control as he tucked the puck into the net from behind the goal line. Kopitar and Ryan Smyth got assists.
The Kings tied the game 4-4 with 1:09 remaining in the third period, with Ersberg skating to the bench for an extra attacker. Williams got the puck in the Ducks' zone along the left boards, and fed a perfect centering pass to Handzus, who scored from close range.
After a breathless overtime, in which the teams combined for nine shots, Corey Perry scored in the first round of the shootout and Jack Johnson scored in the second round.
In the third, Ersberg stopped Saku Koivu and Kopitar scored when he dangled the puck and carried it around McElhinney and into the Ducks’ net.
``It's one of those things where, if I don't score, we keep on going,’’ Kopitar said of his shootout attempt. ``So it's not like I had to score. That makes it a little easier. It's the last game of the year, and I don't think we're going to see McElhinney too often in the shootout, so I just figured I'd try it.’’
Snap shot -
1 - 0 ANA
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2 - 0 ANA
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3 - 0 ANA
Backhand shot -
3 - 1 ANA
4 - 1 ANA
4 - 2 ANA
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4 - 3 ANA
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