Los Angeles Kings vs. Anaheim Ducks Game 5: Keys for Each Team
The Anaheim Ducks have evened the series at 2-2 with their 2-0 win in Game 4 over the Los Angeles Kings. After Los Angeles won the first two games on the road, Anaheim returned the favor by winning twice at Staples Center.
The big story in Game 4 was the play of rookie goalie John Gibson, who stopped all 28 shots he faced in his NHL playoff debut.
The Kings trailed 2-0 after one period and then took control of the game. Anaheim had only three shots on goal in the final 40 minutes while the Kings took 19, but they were unable to solve Gibson.
With the series even at 2-2, the next game becomes crucial for both teams. Game 5 will be played in Anaheim Monday night at 10 p.m. ET.
Here are the three biggest keys for each team to win Game 5. 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: Improve the Penalty Kill
The Anaheim Ducks scored five goals in the two games they have won in this series. Three of those tallies came on the power play.
Overall, the Ducks have converted three of their five chances with the extra attacker in the last two games.
In such tight-checking, low-scoring hockey games, the Kings cannot afford to give the Ducks such production on the power play.
Jarret Stoll, Tyler Toffoli and the rest of the Los Angeles penalty-killers must do a better job of limiting the quality chances the Ducks have managed to get in the last two games.
The Ducks have moved the puck well and made some great cross-ice passes to set up deflections and easy scoring chances.
Unless the Kings can shut down the Ducks power play, they will have a hard time winning hockey games.
Ducks Key No. 1: Get Some Secondary Scoring
The Ducks' top line has been doing its job in this series, especially in the two games Anaheim won.
The trio of Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Devante Smith-Pelly have scored three goals in the last two games.
But Anaheim's other three lines have produced only limited offense. Teemu Selanne has scored on the power play, but the Ducks need more production from players like Jakob Silfverberg, Nick Bonino, Andrew Cogliano and Saku Koivu.
Nobody expects these players to match the production of the team's top trio, but if the Kings have to pay more attention to the other three lines, it would make life that much tougher for the Los Angeles defense.
It would also make it more challenging for Kings coach Darryl Sutter to match lines against the Ducks.
Anaheim has gotten by without substantial production from its "other" lines, but if those players stepped up, it would put the Ducks in a much better position.
Kings Key No. 2: Beat Gibson Early
The Los Angeles Kings fired 28 shots on goal on rookie goalie John Gibson in Game 4, and the Pittsburgh native stopped all 28.
From a confidence standpoint, the Kings need to prove to themselves that they can score on Gibson.
The longer Gibson plays in Game 5 without giving up a goal, the more he gets inside the heads of the Kings players.
Gibson is considered one of the top goaltending prospects in the NHL, but he's not invincible. He is riding a hot streak right now, however. In the AHL playoffs this season, Gibson had a 1.45 goals-against average and .955 save percentage in six games.
The Kings need to give the rookie his "welcome to the NHL moment." The sooner they can do it, the better off they'll be.
Ducks Key No. 2: Keep Getting Pressure on Jonathan Quick
The key to winning in this series has not been the number of shots on goal the victorious team has taken but the quality of the scoring chances they produced.
So far, the team with fewer shots on goal has won three of the first four games in this series. The only exception was Game 1, when the Kings won after taking one more shot on goal than the Ducks.
In the first two games, Quick was able to see almost all the shots the Ducks fired at him.
But in Games 3 and 4, the Ducks were able to set screens, get deflections and battled for rebounds. The result was two road wins.
In Game 4, the Ducks scored twice in just 11 shots on Quick.
To win in Game 5, Anaheim needs to continue getting bodies in front of the Los Angeles goaltender to make his job more difficult.
Kings Key No. 3: Be More Aggressive on the Power Play
The Kings were 0-for-4 in Game 4 when they had the man advantage. It wasn't just the lack of production that was the problem, however—it was the lack of chances the power play produced. The Kings only managed three shots on goal in four chances with the extra attacker.
It seemed the Kings were passing the puck too much and waiting for the perfect shot. In trying to make the perfect play, the Kings passed up a lot of good scoring chances.
Dustin Brown noticed it right away. He was rather blunt in his postgame press conference, as reported by Ducks official website. "I think our power play is just being too cute right now. We are looking for a better play or the next play as opposed to just getting it to the net and getting bodies to the net," Brown said. "A couple of times we get shots on goal and there is no one in front."
The Kings need to follow Brown's advice. They need to take more shots and need to make things tougher for Gibson or whomever the Ducks have in goal.
No team has scored more than three goals in any game in this series. One or two power-play goals can be the difference in winning the next game or even the series.
Ducks Key No. 3: Prove Gibson's Game 4 Performance Was No Fluke
John Gibson played very well in Game 4, but in a series as tight as this one, the rookie cannot afford to have an off game.
Each team has a one-goal win and a two-goal win in the first four games of this series. Every game has been close, low scoring and highly competitive.
The rookie goalie showed a lot of confidence in his NHL playoff debut. He stacked his pads, played his angles well and preserved his team's two-goal lead when the Ducks were outshot 12-0 in the second period.
Gibson needs to play at the same level in Game 5. If he doesn't, Bruce Boudreau may quickly turn back to Jonas Hiller.
If Gibson falters in Game 5, the Ducks would be in trouble. Rookies are often inconsistent. Gibson cannot afford to be if the Ducks are going to win Game 5.