Anaheim Ducks vs. Los Angeles Kings: Biggest Takeaways from Game 6
The Kings' win ended a three-game winning streak by the Ducks and guaranteed that a seventh and deciding game would be played back in Anaheim on Friday night.
Kyle Palmieri scored the only goal for the Ducks late in the second period, but Anaheim couldn't get the equalizer past Quick.
After the visiting team won the first four games of the series, the home team has now captured the last two contests.
The winner of Game 7 will advance to the Western Conference Final to face the Chicago Blackhawks.
Here is a look at the biggest takeaways from Game 6. 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 Is Human After All
The Los Angeles Kings discovered that Anaheim's rookie goalie, John Gibson, is human after all.
Before Game 6, the 20-year-old Anaheim rookie had won all three regular-season games he played in the NHL and his first two playoff games.
Not only did the Kings beat Gibson in Game 6, but also he allowed a soft goal for the first time in this series.
Trevor Lewis' tally late in the second period wasn't a particularly difficult shot to stop, but Gibson allowed it to slip between his pads and into the net. That turned out to be the game-winning goal.
It's not that Gibson played poorly. He stopped 21-of-23 shots for a .913 save percentage and kept his team in the game throughout.
But beating the previously undefeated rookie and seeing him give up a "bad" goal for the first time has to boost the Kings' confidence heading into the pressure of Game 7 Friday night.
The Kings Defense Contributed More to Their Offense
The Kings needed some offense from players not named Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik and they got it in Game 6.
The strategy implemented by Darryl Sutter was to have his club's defensemen get a little more involved in the offense to put some more pressure on goalie John Gibson and the Anaheim defense.
It paid off handsomely when Jake Muzzin saw an opening on the left side and skated in from the point to the slot to score the game's first goal.
Muzzin scored only five goals in 76 games this season, although this was his third tally in the playoffs.
In all, defensemen accounted for six of the 23 shots the Kings took in this game. The subtle change in offensive strategy paid off just enough to keep the Ducks a little off balance and created more scoring chances for Los Angeles.
Their defense then helped the team hold on for a 2-1 victory.
The Kings Stopped the Ducks' Power Play
The Ducks' power play was a major reason Anaheim had won the last three games of this series. They were 4-of-8 in those three contests, which the Ducks won by a total of four goals.
Anaheim scored at least once on the power play in each of their three victories, including a 2-of-2 performance in Game 3.
In Game 6, however, the Kings kept the Ducks from scoring on any of their five power-play opportunities and held them to just six shots on goal in nine minutes and 22 seconds with the extra attacker.
Goalie Jonathan Quick did his job, but it was a true team effort. Forwards like Anze Kopitar, Jarret Stoll and Trevor Lewis all made major contributions as did defensemen Jake Muzzin, Drew Doughty, Slava Voynov and Jeff Schultz.
As a team, the Kings did a good job of keeping the Ducks' attackers away from the blue paint and clearing away the few rebound chances that Quick permitted.
Ducks forward Andrew Cogliano recognized the importance of special teams in Game 6:
#NHLDucks Cogliano: "If we win the special teams value tonight, it might be a different story. Quick made some saves, but it was even."— Anaheim Ducks (@AnaheimDucks) May 15, 2014
The Kings' penalty kill is a big reason why the series returns to Anaheim Friday for Game 7.
Controlling the Faceoff Circle Helped the Kings
Puck possession is an important part of winning close playoff hockey games and winning faceoffs gives a team instant puck possession.
In Game 6, the Kings won 60 percent of the draws, winning 40 faceoffs while losing just 27.
They were led by Anze Kopitar, who won 15-of-23 draws and Jeff Carter who won 6-of-8.
The most important factor was that these faceoff wins helped the Kings win a territorial advantage. They were able to get the puck out of their own zone and spend more time attacking in the Anaheim zone.
This was more important because the Kings were protecting a lead for most of this game. It was much tougher for the Ducks to score if they couldn't gain possession of the puck.
The Kings' success in the faceoff circle helped them win a tight-checking, low-scoring Game 6.
The Kings Are Not Intimidated When Facing Elimination
The Los Angeles Kings can be wounded, but they've proven to be very tough to kill. Their playoff experience has proven very valuable, particularly when they face a "win or go home" situation.
The Kings have now won five straight games in this year's playoffs when facing elimination.
Jonathan Quick has been extremely effective when his team's backs are against the wall. Quick has allowed just six goals in those five games and has a .962 save percentage.
The Kings won the Stanley Cup in 2012 and have plenty of players who are not intimidated by playing in big games as a result of that experience.
It served them well in their historic comeback against the San Jose Sharks and again in Game 6 of this series.