Anaheim Ducks vs. Los Angeles Kings Game 6: Keys for Each Team
Rookie goalie John Gibson has been a key for the Ducks in Games 4 and 5, earning a shutout in his NHL playoff debut and then following that up with a 39-save effort in a 4-3 win at home on Monday night.
The Kings didn't quit in Game 5. They trailed 4-1 late in the second period, but two goals by Marian Gaborik pulled Los Angeles to within one with 5:48 left in the third period. Gibson closed the door after that, and the Ducks became the first home team to win a game in this series.
The Kings now return home to the Staples Center in a must-win situation. If they don't bounce back to win Game 6, their season is over and the Ducks advance to the Western Conference Final.
Here are the three biggest keys for each team to win Game 6. Feel free to comment on any of these or add one of your own. As always, indicate why you feel the way you do.
Ducks Key No. 1: Keep the Power Play Clicking
The Ducks power play has been very effective in this series. Overall, Anaheim is 5-of-16 with the extra attacker and has scored a goal in every game except Game 1.
Anaheim is 4-of-8 on the power play in the three games they have won in this series.
In a low-scoring series like this one, four goals in three games have made a big difference.
Anaheim needs to continue to do what has worked on the power play. They have spaced themselves out well and made crisp, cross-ice passes while getting bodies in front of the Los Angeles net. The result has been quality scoring chances on rebounds and deflections or a shot at a half-empty net.
If the Ducks keep playing this well on the power play, they will be difficult to beat.
Kings Key No. 1: Make Life Tougher for John Gibson
John Gibson has helped the Ducks turn this series around. He has won both games he started and recorded a shutout in Game 4.
Gibson is playing with a lot of confidence right now. He isn't playing like a rookie and is not intimidated by playing in the best league in the world.
The Kings need to make life tougher on Gibson in Game 6 if they hope to score enough goals to win. They need to crash the net and use their big forwards to obstruct Gibson's view of the puck and create scoring chances on deflections and rebounds from the "dirty areas" in front of the goal.
If Gibson continues to see pucks and gain confidence, he will be tough to beat. This is the most important key for the Kings if they hope to even the series on Wednesday night.
Ducks Key No. 2: Keep Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik in Check
Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik have been the Kings' biggest scoring threats in this series.
Kopitar leads all skaters with 16 points in the playoffs. Against Anaheim, the Slovenian center has six assists in five games.
Gaborik is on a hot streak right now. He has five goals and seven points in the five postseason games against the Ducks. He scored both the tying goal and the winning goal in Game 1.
The Kings have 11 goals as a team in this series. Gaborik has five of them and Kopitar has assisted on more than half.
If the Ducks slow down the Kings' two best and most productive players, they stand a very good chance of ending this series in six games.
Kings Key No. 2: Get Better Play from Jonathan Quick
Jonathan Quick is the Kings' best player and the biggest reason they won the Stanley Cup back in 2012.
In the first two games against the Ducks, Quick faced a total of 72 shots and stopped 69 of them for a .958 save percentage.
In the last three games of the series, Quick has stopped only 48 of 57 shots for a save percentage of just .842.
This doesn't all fall on Quick. The Ducks have made things tougher on him by crashing the net and creating traffic around his crease.
Still, in a close series between two evenly-matched teams, the Kings need Quick to be at his best to win.
The Kings are far from an offensive juggernaut and can't afford to give up more than two goals in a game if they hope to win. It is up to Quick to hold the Ducks at or below that magic number.
Ducks Key No. 3: Don't Let Up
The Ducks have won three straight games in this series and have the momentum.
Still, coach Bruce Boudreau must make sure his team doesn't forget how close this series has been. Thus far, three games have been decided by one goal and the other pair were decided by just two tallies.
Overall, the Ducks have outscored the Kings in this series by a 12-11 margin.
While Anaheim is ahead 3-2, that lead could evaporate in an instant.
The Ducks need to keep the pressure on and not let up. While the Kings have to play with desperation as they face elimination, the Ducks need to be sure to match that level of urgency if they hope to win Game 6.
Kings Key No. 3: Get More Secondary Scoring
The Kings need to get points and production from players not named Kopitar or Gaborik.
When one player has five of the team's 11 goals (Gaborik) and another has assisted on six of them (Kopitar), it's time for other players to get involved.
Players like Slava Voynov, Drew Doughty, Dustin Brown, Jeff Carter and Tyler Toffoli need to step up and be a bit more productive offensively.
If they fail, the Kings season will likely end with Game 6.