Anaheim Ducks vs. Los Angeles Kings Game 3: Keys for Each Team

Brad Kurtzberg@@sealshockeyContributor IMay 7, 2014

Anaheim Ducks vs. Los Angeles Kings Game 3: Keys for Each Team

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    The Anaheim Ducks have their backs against the wall in the "Freeway Faceoff" after the Los Angeles Kings won the first two games of the series in Anaheim.

    In Game 2, the Ducks outshot the Kings 37-17, but managed only one goal on Jonathan Quick in a 3-1 loss.

    Marian Gaborik scored his third goal of the series to give the Kings the lead in the opening minute of Game 2 while Alec Martinez potted the game-winning goal midway through the first period to put Los Angeles ahead for good.

    The Ducks now trail 2-0 and look to get back into the series by winning Game 3, which starts Thursday night at 10 p.m. ET at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

    Here are the three biggest keys for each team to win Game 3. Feel free to comment on any of these or add one of your own. As always, indicate why you feel the way you do.

Kings Key No. 1: Continue to Play Stout Defense

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    The Kings defense has played strong hockey so far against the Ducks and in the last four games of the team's opening-round comeback against the San Jose Sharks.

    The Ducks have scored only three goals in two games, mostly because L.A.'s defense is not allowing many quality scoring chances.

    Anaheim has outshot Los Angeles in this series, but the Kings defense has prevented the Ducks from getting rebounds, deflections and quality shots from the slot.

    The Kings did this in Game 2 despite the fact that both Robyn Regehr and Willie Mitchell were out of the lineup with injuries.

    The Ducks were the league's top-scoring offense during the regular season and have too much talent to be kept down forever. The Kings need to continue to do the little things right on defense to help them win hockey games.

Ducks Key No. 1: Make Life Tougher for Jonathan Quick

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    The Ducks have to be frustrated right now after the first two games of the series. They are taking plenty of shots, but have very little to show for it.

    The biggest reason is quantity vs. quality. Anaheim has registered 72 shots in the first two games, but has scored only three times. That's a team shooting percentage of just 4.2 percent.

    At a post-practice press conference broadcast by NHL Network on the May 6 edition of NHL Tonight, Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau spoke about how to get the offense going.

    "Their defense is good. They didn’t just win the Jennings Trophy by luck. They’re a good defensive team. They block shots," he said. "We've got to find ways to get around their big bodies and to not let Quick see the puck. Now that’s easy to say but it’s not that easy to do."

    The Ducks need to get bodies in front of Quick, block his vision, deflect shots from the point and grab rebounds. Thus far in this series, on those few occasions when Quick allowed a rebound, the Kings defense has won the race and cleared the puck away.

    If the Ducks can't reverse this trend, it may be a very short series.

Kings Key No. 2: Don't Let Up

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    The Kings own a 2-0 series advantage after winning the first two games on the road. The next two contests are scheduled for the friendly confines of the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

    The Kings need to realize, however, that the difference between the two teams has not been that large in either contest.

    Los Angeles trailed in Game 1 until the final seven seconds of regulation, when Marian Gaborik managed to tie the game. The Kings then won in overtime.

    Monday night's meeting was essentially a one-goal game before Dwight King scored into an empty net in the final minute.

    The Kings have worked hard, especially on defense, and have gotten excellent goaltending. But if they let up even a little bit and get comfortable with their series lead, it will evaporate quickly.

    Just ask the San Jose Sharks about that.

    The Kings can't be complacent and can't take their favorable position for granted. The Ducks are too good a team to lay down and die just because they have fallen behind in this series.

Ducks Key No. 2: Get the Top Line Going

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    Neither Corey Perry nor Ryan Getzlaf has scored a goal in the first two games of this series. Matt Beleskey, the third member of the Ducks' top line, has scored only once.

    The Kings found a way to shut down the Ducks' top trio and the result was a pair of victories for Los Angeles.

    The Ducks had the last change as the home team in the first two games. Initially, coach Bruce Boudreau wanted to match Getzlaf, Perry and Beleskey against the Kings' top line of Anze Kopitar, Marian Gaborik and Dustin Brown.

    Boudreau changed his mind midway through Game 2, however.

    "I did it because Kopitar’s line was dominating them," Boudreau explained to reporters. "I could be stubborn and leave them out there all day, but we had to move something around to get away from it. Then, maybe [Getzlaf’s] line could get something accomplished."

    Boudreau will not have the advantage of the final change in Games 3 and 4, but he needs to find a way to get his top line to score more oftenregardless of who they match up against.

    Perry was second in the NHL with 43 goals during the regular season. Getzlaf scored 31 more. It's time for the Ducks to get that duo going.

    In the playoffs, teams need their top goal scorers to produce. So far in this series, the Ducks haven't gotten enough scoring from their top trio.

Kings Key No. 3: Use Their Size and Be Physical

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    Both the Kings and the Ducks have a lot of size in their lineups, but it is to the Kings' advantage that the series remains a very physical one.

    The Ducks can't afford to be pushed around, but the Kings have the bigger advantage in this series if the overall tone of the series is more physical than skilled.

    Los Angeles led the NHL in goals-against average this season. A tight-checking, physical series will help keep scoring down. It is also the style of play Kings coach Darryl Sutter prefers his team to play.

    If any game in this series becomes a wide-open shootout, that favors the Ducks.

    The Kings need to keep this a tight-checking affair, limit scoring chances and grind out another victory.

Ducks Key No. 3: Get More Production from the Power Play

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    Through the first two games of this series, the Anaheim Ducks are just 1-for-8 on the power play. That's a 12.5 percent success rate, which is just not good enough to help Anaheim win consistently.

    Against a strong defensive team like the Kings, the Ducks need to be able to take advantage of their chances with the extra attacker.

    In addition to Getzlaf and Perry, the Ducks have Nick Bonino, Mathieu Perreault and Cam Fowler, who each scored at least four power-play goals during the regular season.

    Anaheim also features one of the greatest power-play weapons in NHL history in veteran Teemu Selanne. Sure, Selanne is not the player he was in his prime, but given the extra time and space players are accorded on the power play, he should be able to help the Ducks put some points on the board.

    The Ducks need to move more without the puck when they are on the power play and get players near the blue paint to create quality scoring chances.

    Both of the first two games of this series were close. If the Ducks' power play had been more productive, it could have made the difference in at least one of the first two contests.

    It's not too late for the Anaheim power play to help spur the team to victory.