After the first period:
Ducks 2, Kings 0
The good: Nashville lost to St. Louis earlier today, meaning the winner of this game will finish no lower than fifth in the Western Conference. If Phoenix loses to San Jose in a game that’s scoreless after the first period, the winner of this game will finish fourth and earn home-ice advantage for the first round. Unfortunately, that’s not looking like the Kings.
The bad: If the Kings continue to struggle with their power play, they’ll be lucky to win a playoff game. They were on the power play for six of the first nine minutes—including a four-minute stretch after forward Ryan Smyth was struck with a high stick from Ducks defenseman Francois Beauchemin—and couldn’t get the puck past third-string goalie Dan Ellis. Smyth basically spilt blood for nothing. The Kings are scoreless on their last 21 power plays, dating to when leading scorer Anze Kopitar suffered a season-ending ankle injury March 26 against Colorado. Their second power play resulted in just as many off-sides penalties (two) as shots on goal. They were then awarded a third power play with eight minutes left in the period but couldn’t get through that without getting called for too many men on the ice. While both teams were skating four-on-four, Ducks rookie forward Brandon McMillan batted his own rebound past Kings goalie Jonathan Quick with 6:33 left. The play was reviewed but held up for a 1-0 lead. If the Kings end up losing by a goal, that could be a key no-call, but it doesn’t appear they’ll stay that close. The Ducks finally got their own power play, which transitioned into a two-man advantage for 12 seconds. They showed the Kings how to take advantage of their opportunities, taking a 2-0 lead with 4:19 left on a no-look pass from Corey Perry that found the stick of Saku Koivu, who hit the open net.
The in between: It’s not as if the Kings aren’t trying. They took 15 shots on goal in the first 20 minutes, which is just three off their season-high for a period. They just don’t have the skill to match up with a team like Anaheim, especially without Kopitar and second-leading scorer Justin Williams, who may return in time for the first round.