Kings win Freeway Faceoff

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The Freeway Faceoff had its first game of the season Sunday when the Los Angeles Kings traveled down the I-5 to Anaheim to face the Ducks. This is one of the games Los Angeles area hockey fans look forward to every season. It doesn’t matter where the game is played, fans for both teams will fill up which ever building the Kings and Ducks are at: Staples Center in Los Angeles, or the Honda Center in Anaheim.

Honda Center-AnthemThe Kings came off a tough loss to the Ottawa Senators at home, in what has been an up and down month so far. The Ducks came into the game with a two-game winning streak behind them; they first beat the Senators and then the Dallas Stars.

But the Kings are very familiar with the Honda Center and there were a lot of their fans in the seats. But, they had lost their four previous games in Anaheim, so the odds favored the Ducks.

The Kings lead the Pacific Division and before Sunday’s game they were 12 points ahead of the Ducks. Their star center, Anze Kopitar, had just signed an eight-year, $80 million contract with the Kings and that at least took a load off his mind. His contract was due to end in July and he and the team had been negotiating for at least the past three months. It may have given Kopitar some extra motivation to play better as well.

Tyler Toffoli of the Los Angeles Kings
Tyler Toffoli of the Los Angeles Kings

Games between these two teams are always tough, physically defensive games and fights are a common occurrence in this rivalry. Sunday was no exception.

Neither team was able to score in the first period, but there were five penalties, two for major fighting. Brayden McNabb of the Kings and Patrick Maroon of the Ducks each got five minutes.

It was in the second period when the Kings took over the game, scoring three goals. The first was a power play goal by Vincent Lecavalier, who had been acquired in a trade with the Philadelphia Flyers about a week ago. He was assisted by Jeff Carter and Alec Martinez

Rickard Rakell scored for the Ducks 33 seconds later, assisted by Shea Theodore and Kevin Bieksa, but Tyler Toffoli scored for the Kings at the 15:45 mark to put the Kings ahead. It was Toffoli’s 22nd goal of the season.

Anze Kopitar then got the Kings third goal of the game with less than three minutes left in the period, assisted by Brayden McNabb and Milan Lucic.

Andrew Cogliano of the Anaheim Ducks
Andrew Cogliano of the Anaheim Ducks

The Kings couldn’t penetrate the Ducks defense enough to score a goal and the Ducks goalie, John Gibson, did a great job in the third. Anaheim attacked Jonathan Quick’s net in the final period, out shooting the Kings. As a result they got one goal from David Perron, assisted by Ryan Getzlaf. But that was all the scoring the Ducks could manage. It was Perron’s first game with the Ducks; he had just been traded, coming from the Pittsburgh Penguins the day before.

The Ducks had one more puck go in the net for them, but it was disallowed because it appeared Andrew Cogliano kicked the puck into the net. After the game he said, “The heat of the play, the puck’s going to your feet, you’re just trying to put the puck in the net at any cost, so it’s kind of how your momentum carries your foot a bit. But it was really close, if the ref didn’t call it a non-goal on the ice, it could have gone the other way.”

The Kings won, 3-2 and Jonathan Quick had 30 saves for the win.

After the game Alec Martinez of the Kings told the press, “Every time you play Anaheim you know it’s going to be a physical battle. It’s usually physical, chippy, you saw a couple fights there — that’s normal for our two teams.”

Kings2Rickard Rakell of the Ducks had the same sentiment. “It’s always nice and the crowd is always into the games. It’s a tough physical game and it’s always close ones. I’m looking forward to the next one.”

Tyler Toffoli told the press, “It’s always tough when we play them. The rinks are pretty loud. There were a lot of Kings fans in here for us, which makes it a lot easier for us to play here, but we had a mindset of beating these guys. It was the first game against them this year and I think we did a great job tonight.”

L.A. Post-Examiner Staff contributed to this article.

All photos by Claudia Gestro