LOS ANGELES — Trevor Lewis scored his fourth goal of the post-season, Jonathan Quick made 21 saves, and the Los Angeles Kings forced a seventh game in the Freeway Faceoff series with a 2-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks in Game 6 on Wednesday night.
Jake Muzzin scored an early goal for the Kings, who ended their three-game skid with another sturdy defensive effort at home. Los Angeles improved to 6-1 in post-season elimination games over the last two seasons while beating Ducks goalie John Gibson for the first time in his six-game NHL career.
Kyle Palmieri scored and Gibson stopped 21 shots for the top-seeded Ducks, who missed the chance to clinch their first trip to the Western Conference finals since 2007.
Game 7 is Friday night at Honda Center. The winner will head to the conference final that begins Sunday.
The Southern California rivals’ scintillating first post-season meeting is the NHL’s only second-round series still going. The winner faces the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks, who will have at least four days off before the conference finals open.
The Kings again proved their post-season credentials are unassailable after winning a Stanley Cup title in 2012 and returning to the conference finals last year. Responding to Anaheim’s three straight wins with calm, intelligent defence, Los Angeles forced its second seven-game series of this post-season after rallying from an 0-3 deficit in the first round to stun San Jose.
Four days after Gibson made his NHL playoff debut at Staples Center by shutting out the Kings to even the series, the 20-year-old goalie had a rougher time in his third game in the Ducks’ net. Lewis scored on an eminently stoppable shot, the puck trickling between Gibson’s pads in the second period.
Quick finally outplayed his young rival, and the Kings forced Game 7 despite getting just one goal from Jeff Carter and none from Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty, Dustin Brown, Justin Williams, Slava Voynov or Jarret Stoll in the series.
The Kings came out for their fifth elimination game of the spring with the same fire they possessed in their first four, setting the pace and outhitting the Ducks early. Los Angeles took the lead midway through the first period when Kopitar slid a pass through the slot to Muzzin, who hit a mostly open net for the defenceman’s third goal of the post-season, his first in 11 games.
Kopitar got his seventh assist of the post-season and extended his overall NHL playoff scoring lead, while Marian Gaborik scored his 13th point in 11 games with the other assist.
Gaborik nearly scored his sixth goal of the series later in the period, but the puck hopped over his stick after Gibson ventured far from his net and banked a clearing attempt off teammate Ryan Getzlaf’s leg.
Lewis doubled the Kings’ lead with an innocent-looking wrist shot that sneaked between Gibson’s legs for his first bad goal of the post-season. Lewis, a grinding forward, scored just six times in the entire regular season.
The Ducks scored 1:38 later. Nick Bonino jumped on Tanner Pearson’s turnover and got it to Palmieri, who wrapped it around Quick’s net for his first playoff goal since Anaheim’s first-round opener.
Anaheim had two power plays in the third period, but the unit that scored five goals in the previous four games couldn’t connect.