(SportsNetwork.com) - The Anaheim Ducks were able to slow down the red-hot Los Angeles Kings to pick up a win in Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinals. They hope to repeat that success and even the best-of-seven series at two games apiece when the clubs battle Saturday in Game 4 at Los Angeles.
The Kings had won six in a row before dropping Thursday's home tilt at the Staples Center. Ben Lovejoy's late third-period goal proved to be the difference as Anaheim beat the Kings 3-2 Thursday night in the City of Angels.
It was the first loss for L.A. since it dropped a 4-3 overtime decision to the visiting San Jose Sharks on April 22. That setback put the Kings down 3-0 in their opening-round series with the Sharks, but L.A. rallied to post four straight wins to become only the fourth team in NHL history to win a best-of- seven series after losing the first three meetings.
The Ducks lost the opening two games of the conference semis on home ice before breaking through with Thursday's road victory.
In addition to Lovejoy's goal, which made it 3-1 with 2:55 left in the third period, Corey Perry and Teemu Selanne also scored power-play goals for Anaheim.
The Ducks won the tilt despite an injury to goaltender Frederik Andersen, who left the game midway through the third period with a lower-body injury and did not return. Jonas Hiller made seven saves in the final 9:58 to complete the win for Anaheim.
"He was playing well and he's a guy that you can tell if he's playing well early, the glove hand seems a lot sharper and he's a lot more concerned and he's good with it. So I thought he played good," Anaheim head coach Bruce Boudreau said about Andersen, who stopped 22 shots.
Andersen, a rookie, started all six games in the Ducks' first-round win over the Dallas Stars before Hiller started the first two games against the Kings in Anaheim. Hiller expects to get the call tonight, but Anaheim has not ruled out Andersen for the Game 4 clash.
The Ducks also recalled highly-touted goaltending prospect John Gibson to serve as the backup, if necessary. Gibson, a second-round draft pick in 2011, made his NHL debut late in the 2013-14 regular season and was 3-0 with a 1.33 goals against average in three outings for the Ducks.
Unfortunately for Anaheim, Andersen wasn't the only Ducks player hurt in Game 3, as forwards Matt Beleskey and Mathieu Perreault also suffered lower-body injuries in the win. If Beleskey and Perreault are forced to miss Game 4, Boudreau will likely choose their replacements from a group consisting of Emerson Etem, Tim Jackman, Rickard Rakell or Daniel Winnik.
Jeff Carter and Mike Richards scored for Los Angeles on Thursday, while Jonathan Quick stopped 19 shots in defeat. Richards scored with 30.8 seconds left in regulation, but the Kings were unable to get another shot past Hiller to tie the game.
"The Ducks played harder than us tonight, they executed better," Richards said. "They were a desperate team and they showed up. We know what it's like to be in that position, and if the other team is more desperate than we are, they are probably going to have more success."
After Thursday's meeting, the Kings fell to 2-2 as the home team this postseason while Anaheim improved to 2-2 on the road. The home team is 0-3 so far in this "Freeway Series," the first-ever playoff encounter between these Southern California rivals.
"So far that hasn't meant anything, I hope it continues for at least one more game," Boudreau said of home ice.
Kings forward Anze Kopitar picked up an assist on Carter's goal and now has points in all 10 games this postseason, totaling four goals and 11 assists. The last King to have points in 10 straight games in one postseason was Wayne Gretzky, who had a franchise-record 12-game point streak in 1993.
If the Kings can rebound with a win on Saturday, they will have a chance to close the series Monday in Anaheim. L.A., which won its first Stanley Cup title in 2012, is attempting to make the conference finals for a third straight spring.