Anaheim Ducks vs. Los Angeles Kings: Biggest Takeaways from Game 4
The big story of the game was rookie John Gibson who made 28 saves to earn a shutout in his first career NHL playoff appearance.
The Kings lost despite holding the Ducks without a shot on goal in the second period and holding Anaheim to just 14 shots on net for the entire game.
The series is now all even at 2-2 with Game 5 scheduled for Monday night in Anaheim. The road team has won all four games in this series.
Here is a look at the biggest takeaways from Game 4. Feel free to comment on any of the issues discussed here or to add one of your own. As always, indicate why you feel the way you do.
John Gibson Was Not Intimidated
Rookie goalie John Gibson is just 20-years-old and has but three games of NHL experience.
When coach Bruce Boudreau named Gibson the starter for Game 4, the Pittsburgh native rose to the occasion.
Despite facing stars like Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty and Marian Gaborik and playing before a hostile crowd, Gibson was not intimidated. The rookie stopped all 28 shots he faced and led the Ducks to a 2-0 win.
Although Gibson never had a comfortable lead in this game, he came up big when it counted. In the second period, the Kings outshot the Ducks 12-0, but Gibson did not let Los Angeles score.
He also did not let the Kings score on four power-play opportunities.
Nobody is ready to anoint Gibson as the next Patrick Roy or Martin Brodeur, but he certainly wasn't intimidated by the enormity of the situation he found himself in and he responded well to it.
Boudreau will almost certainly start Gibson again in Game 5.
Special Teams Made a Big Difference for the Ducks
Special teams were a key to Anaheim's win in Game 4, and it went beyond mere numbers.
Sure, the Ducks were 1-of-3 on the power play while the Kings were 0-for-4.
But Anaheim scored a key goal with the extra skater with just 1:15 left in the first period. It was also the third straight time the Ducks scored on a power play in the series, having gone 2-for-2 in Game 3. The power play successes just added to Anaheim's confidence in this game.
Meanwhile, the Kings had two power plays in the first period while the game was still scoreless and couldn't convert on either of them.
In the second and third period, when Los Angeles was dominating the game, their power-play failures disrupted their momentum and restored confidence to the Ducks.
The Kings managed only three shots on goal in eight minutes with the extra attacker. They seemed determined to set up the perfect scoring chance and passed up many available shots in the process.
The Ducks now have three power play goals in their two wins in this series. They have only two goals at even strength in those two games.
In a series where goals have been very hard to come by, this special teams edge is a huge advantage for the Ducks.
The Kings Defense Played Very Well
The Kings defense played well in Game 4, but their lack of offense did them in.
The Ducks only had three shots on goal in the final 40 minutes of this game and were held without a shot on goal in the second period. The last time a team was held without a shot on net for a full period in a playoff game was in 1998.
One of the two Anaheim goals deflected in off a Kings' defenseman. Other than that, the Ducks' scoring chances were limited to just a handful.
The Kings also outhit the Ducks in this game by a 52-26 margin. Dustin Brown and Jarret Stoll were each credited with eight hits to lead Los Angeles.
When your offense doesn't score at all, a good defensive effort is wasted, but the Kings' defense did play well enough to win this game.
We Have a Coaching Chess Match on Our Hands
Both Bruce Boudreau and Darryl Sutter are respected coaches in this league and both played a bit of a chess match in Game 4.
Boudreau went with the rookie Gibson in goal instead of veteran Jonas Hiller. He thought playing a rookie might inspire his team to play better in their own zone. For the most part, they did. Gibson's fine play did the rest and the Ducks had a 2-0 shutout win.
Sutter responded to Boudreau's move during the first intermission. With his team trailing 2-0, he removed Jonathan Quick, his best player, and replaced him with rookie goalie Martin Jones.
The Kings did respond and allowed the Ducks only three shots on goal over the final 40 minutes of the game. The Ducks did not score again and the Kings went on to dominate the game in the second period.
Coaches match lines in playoff series, but these coaches matched rookie goalies. Both of them got their teams to respond.
Expect these two coaches to continue to engage in this chess match throughout the rest of the series.
The Ducks Top Line Is Getting the Job Done
The Ducks' first line of Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Devante Smith-Pelly has been productive for the Ducks in the two games they won.
Smith-Pelly and Getzlaf scored goals in Game 4 while Perry had two assists. The first line provided all of the Ducks' scoring in this game and recorded seven of the team's 14 shots on goal.
Perry also scored in Game 3 while Getzlaf added an assist.
When the Ducks top line is scoring goals, they are more likely to win hockey games.
In this year's playoffs, Anaheim is now 6-0 in games in which Perry has at least one point.
The first line's productivity remains a key to the Ducks' success.