Ducks drop big weekend series to Kings, Preds

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
The Sporting Tribune's Derek Lee recaps the Ducks' weekend series against the Kings and Predators and what went wrong for them.

ANAHEIM, Calif. — A rare home-home back-to-back greeted the Ducks this past weekend with a trip down to Los Angeles on Saturday to face the Kings before returning home to face the Nashville Predators on Sunday night.

Anaheim did not fare well in their first matchup against their crosstown rivals earlier this season, falling 5-2 at Honda Center on Black Friday. Last night was a much more even performance, as the Ducks matched the Kings tit-for-tat for most of the game.

The Ducks took the lead twice throughout the game, but the Kings answered back both times. Jakob Silfverberg got the scoring going for Anaheim, beating David Rittich five-hole on the power play. It was Silfverberg’s sixth goal of the season. The Ducks would take the lead again courtesy of Sam Carrick, who got a stick on Adam Henrique’s feed during an odd-man rush while shorthanded.

Both of the Kings’ equalizers would come on the power play. First, Kevin Fiala ripped one top corner past John Gibson with Anze Kopitar blocking out the sun. Then, Drew Doughty would beat Gibson five-hole from the high slot.

There were plenty of chances for Anaheim to win the game in regulation, most notably a 3-on-1 opportunity for the Vatrano-McTavish-Terry line and a breakaway for Leo Carlsson, who lost the puck at the moment of truth when shifting it to his backhand for a shot. If not for John Gibson, who made 48 saves, the scoreline might have looked a lot different after three periods.

“We actually had scoring chances that we never shot on net,” said head coach Greg Cronin. “We had multiple 2-on-1s and we had a 3-on-1 where we passed it wide and shot it wide. Some of the chances that we should have had that we should have added to our shot total and scoring chances, we didn’t take shots. I thought 5-on-5, there could have been two or three goals scored for each team.”

Feb 24, 2024; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Kings defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov (84) plays for the puck against Anaheim Ducks center Sam Carrick (39) during the third period at Crypto.com Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Overtime bred no other goals, which meant the result would be settled by a shootout. Pierre-Luc Dubois and Trevor Moore deftly beat Gibson with well-placed shots while Carlsson converted the second shootout attempt of his NHL career in as many chances. Alex Killorn had a chance to extend the skills competition, but his attempt was denied by Rittich.

“I thought it was a pretty good effort from our guys,” said Carrick. “We’ll build on it.”


Less than 24 hours later, the Ducks engaged in battle with the Predators. Troy Terry, who briefly left the game against the Kings after taking a hit into the boards from Kevin Fiala, was not in the lineup and is currently listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury. Brett Leason drew into the lineup in Terry’s absence, filling his spot on the second line alongside Frank Vatrano and Mason McTavish. Gustav Lindström also drew in for Jackson LaCombe on the blue line.

A scoreless first would not be replicated in the second, as defenseman Roman Josi gave the Predators a 1-0 lead exactly a minute into the middle frame with a one-timer from the top of the point. The Ducks would respond nearly 11 minutes later when Max Jones found Isac Lundeström with a nifty pass on the rush and the Swedish forward beat Kevin Lankinen down low. The play was jumpstarted by a clean breakout pass by defenseman Urho Vaakanainen and an even better bank pass to Jones from Leason in the neutral zone.

The third period would be the Ducks’ undoing, as Nashville scored three times, with the final tally being an empty net bid from Gustav Nyquist in his own zone with 2:02 remaining in the period. It turned Brett Leason’s goal just 22 seconds earlier into nothing more than a consolation effort.

“Those (kinds of games) hurt,” said Cronin. “We deserved a better fate. That hurts. We played well and we killed four power plays. I don’t have them all tallied up but we had better scoring chances and they had two floater shots go in. That hurts, that’s a game we could have won.”

I think we deserved a better fate tonight,” echoed Leason, who had the sixth multi-point game of his career. “I felt good, didn’t know how the legs would feel after being out for a bit. Made some good plays and ended up with a goal and an assist, but wish we could have gotten the win tonight.”

Lundeström has similar thoughts when it came to being on the scoresheet in a game where the team didn’t get the result they wanted. “It’s nice, but at the end of the day, it sucks to not be able to take two points tonight. It’s a tough one.”

“I think the last few games, as a team, we’ve played well,” said Leason. “I think we’ve just got to shoot the puck more and get in front of the goalie’s eyes, make it more difficult on him.”