If you asked the fans of the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center what they thought of their team’s 2-1 loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday night…
I’ll bet that at least 98% of them would say that the Kings played a nine-man team; six Ducks players and three referees.
This was the case after what would have been Anze Kopitar‘s tying goal was waived off by officials with 6:23 left in the game because it was ruled that there was incidental contact between the Kings’ Marian Gaborik and Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen.
Kings fans responded with a loud chorus of boos and other unmentionables at the officials, and the game had to be temporarily stopped due to the debris thrown on the ice in protest.
As it turned out, it was part of a rivalry game with an atmosphere that would remind some of a UCLA – USC football battle in that different Kings and Ducks such as Jeff Carter, Francois Beauchemin, Corey Perry, and Robyn Regehr were getting rather chippy with each other.
Patrick Maroon scored the winning goal for the Ducks in the second period, 51 seconds after the Kings’ Tyler Toffoli tied the game at one, and Andersen stopped 37 shots to secure the Ducks’ third win over the I-5 rivals.
Which won the annual Freeway Faceoff and SoCal bragging rights for Orange County’s Ducks and their fans.
Toffoli’s power play goal broke a 148 minute, eight second scoring drought for the Kings against their rivals, dating back to January 23.
This game may be in the books, but for all those SoCal hockey fans who crave more of this ever-heating-up rivalry, they may get their chance.
Not only do these two teams close the regular season against each other on Saturday, April 12 at Staples (Same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel!), there’s a great chance that these Kings and Ducks may face each other in the first round of the NHL playoffs.
The Ducks are currently in second place in the Western Conference with 97 points, while the Kings, at 82 points – two ahead of the Minnesota Wild – are in sixth.
If the Ducks slip into third or the Kings slip into seventh, guess what?
A potential first round of the playoffs for the ages may commence for these teams.
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, however; there are four weeks and 14 games left for the Kings and the Ducks.
And so many things can happen between now and April 12.
Here’s a highlight clip of the Ducks’ win over their downtown L.A. counterparts: