NHL: 6 Best Los Angeles Kings-Anaheim Ducks Rivalry Moments
As any Southern Californian will tell you, the real rivalry is NOT with NorCal (although they seem to think so..).
There is a rivalry that lies much closer then San Jose and San Francisco. It lies between the southern neighbor of Orange County and the L.A. Basin.
It's a clash of different cultures, lifestyles and hockey teams all in one.
It's still a young rivalry and it's one that hasn't even hit its peak yet. But it's one that has had its great share of moments and doesn't lack any of the intensity you would come to expect from crosstown rivals.
December 2nd, 1993: Game 1
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A rivalry is born. The two teams first fight at the Great Western Forum.
It was a monumental moment for southern California hockey and hockey in general. With the Kings coming off their best season ever, a Stanley Cup Finals appearance, the NHL introduced expansion to two "warm weather" locales in Anaheim and Florida.
The teams met in the 27th game of the season both tied in the standings. The first game was very reminiscent of a big brother picking on a little brother with the Kings outshooting the Ducks 33-10 but being down 1-0.
The Kings would eventually go on to win the game 4-2, snapping a six-game losing streak, with Jari Kurri netting two—including the game winner. A fitting end in retrospect given that Jari Kurri is one of few, and probably the most famous player, to play for both southern California squads in his career.
Anaheim would go on to surpass the league average in attendance that season and the Kings would also average above league average in attendance.
The rivalry had had its groundbreaker.
The Selanne Fight
In a scrappy regular season match up between the Ducks and Kings, Teemu Selanne did something he hadn't done in 15 years.
At age 40, he fought.
Just another page for the legend that is Teemu Selanne. I despise the Ducks as a Kings fan, but props to Selanne. At age 40, he was having a fantastic season and dropped the gloves with someone over 10 years younger.
Although I think Richardson might have got the better shots in.
April 6th 2010: Kings 4-1 Comeback Eliminates Ducks Playoff Chances
It was possible that for the first time in history, the Kings and Ducks would appear in the playoffs in the same year.
However, the Ducks needed to win all five of their remaining games on schedule to clinch, Two against the Kings. The two teams played a short home-and-home series with the Ducks taking game one at Staples in a shootout.
This one looked to be another loss for the Kings who were down 4-1 entering the 3rd period. But L.A. was seemingly hell-bent on playing spoiler for the Ducks, storming back to tie it and send the game to overtime.
It took a nifty shootout winner by Anze Kopitar to seal the fate of the Ducks and put them out of the playoffs for the first time since the lockout. It was also the first time the Kings had made the playoffs since 2002.
Bobby Ryans First Career Hat Trick
Alright, let's make this list fair. There are some moments that we Kings fans probably don't want to remember, but we do.
Bobby Ryan's first career hat trick came against the Kings on January 8th, 2009—in a game which the Kings had led 3-0 at one point.
The Kings eventually went on to win the game 4-3 but it was an announcement to Kings fans everywhere that this guy was going to be a player to watch in the rivalry, and the league, for some years to come. Especially when it comes to the 3rd goal, which was scored in spectacular fashion.
Again, I do not want to remember these things, But that was that a great goal.
That year, Ryan had a 31-goal rookie season and was a Calder Trophy finalist.
Selanne's 1,000th Point
This was a huge moment in this game and a huge moment for a great player.
Back on January 30th, 2006, the Kings and the Ducks were locked in a 2-2 game halfway through the third when Selanne took a beautiful pass from Andy McDonald and tucked away a beautiful forehand to backhand break away goal.
The Ducks would go on to win the game, and Selanne would join a club of only 70 players who have scored over 1,000 points. He would also become only the 7th European to do so.
A crowning achievement that would have had significance against ANY opponent, but the fact that it was against the crosstown rivals will go down as a great moment in the history of the Freeway Face-Off.
Anze Kopitar Beats Pronger for His 1st NHL Goal
Another milestone for a player that came against the crosstown rivals. Joining the ranks of Bobby Ryans first hat trick and Selannes 1,000th point, is then-rookie Anze Kopitar scoring his first NHL goal.
It was a beauty, and an example of what to expect for years to come from Anze.
Size, speed, strength and finish.
Much the way that Bobby Ryan announced his presence in the rivalry with his hat trick, Kopitar announced his arrival by beating Ducks All-Stars defensemen Chris Pronger and goalie J.S. Giguere to tie the game.
The first of many goals for Anze Kopitar, who mind you, was the first Slovenian born player to score a goal in the NHL with this goal.