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Kings aim for 2-0 lead in Anaheim
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Los Angeles Kings were seconds away from falling behind 1-0 in the Western Conference semifinals until Marian Gaborik altered their fate.
After a comeback victory in Game 1, Gaborik and the Kings will shoot for a 2-0 lead when they visit the Anaheim Ducks for Monday's Game 2 battle at Honda Center.
Gaborik tied the game late in regulation and scored the winner 12:07 into overtime to help Los Angeles rally for a 3-2 win in Game 1 on Saturday. It was the first-ever playoff meeting between the longtime Pacific Division rivals, who are battling for Southern California supremacy and a right to play in the Western Conference finals.
The Kings acquired Gaborik from Columbus for forward Matt Frattin and two draft picks at the trade deadline, and the move has paid off big so far in the postseason. With his two-goal effort on Saturday, the Slovakian sniper now has five tallies in the 2014 playoffs, placing him in a four-way tie for the league lead.
The Kings were trailing 2-1 after Teemu Selanne scored earlier in the third period, and they pulled goaltender Jonathan Quick for an extra attacker.
It appeared the Ducks were poised to win this one in regulation after Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller made stops on Anze Kopitar and a rebound chance by Justin Williams inside the final minute. However, Mike Richards threw the puck on net from the left boards in the dying seconds, and Gaborik was able to knock the rebound out of the air and between the pads of Hiller with just seven ticks showing to force overtime.
"It's a playoff game so you're never going to see teams lay down," said Los Angeles head coach Darryl Sutter. "We were just working hard to tie the game."
On the winning goal, Kopitar received the puck in the high slot and threw a hard pass to the left side for Gaborik, who tipped the puck on net where it went off the post and in for the winner and a 1-0 lead in this best-of-seven set.
"We weren't sharp in some parts of the game, we gave them some odd-man rushes and turned the puck over," said Gaborik. "But we came back and got a very important win for us."
Gaborik, owner of 347 regular-season markers, now has 21 goals over 61 career playoff games.
Kopitar had three assists and Alec Martinez scored the other goal for the Kings, who became the fourth team in NHL history to rally from a 3-0 hole as they defeated the San Jose Sharks in a seven-game matchup in the opening round.
Kopitar leads all skaters in the playoffs with 13 points on four goals and nine assists.
Quick made 33 saves in Saturday's victory, as the 2012 Conn Smythe Trophy winner improved to 34-24 in his playoff career.
Saturday's win did come at a cost for L.A., which lost defenseman Robyn Regehr to an undisclosed injury. Regehr left the game midway through the first period and did not return. He is questionable for Monday's contest.
The Kings are already without defenseman Willie Mitchell, who sat out Game 7 of the first round and the opener of this set with an undisclosed injury. Matt Greene has replaced Mitchell in the lineup and defenseman Jeff Schultz, who was recently recalled from the American Hockey League, could join the roster if both Mitchell and Regehr sit out Game 2.
Selanne and Matt Beleskey scored for the Ducks, who took out the Dallas Stars in six games to advance to the semifinals. Hiller had 33 saves in the loss, while Anaheim captain Ryan Getzlaf had two assists.
"You're looking at a 3-2 overtime loss where both teams played evenly," said Anaheim head coach Bruce Boudreau. "It wasn't the other, it's what two good hockey teams do, one wins and the other doesn't. like one team was dominant over. Maybe on Monday it will be reversed."
Although the Ducks won all three of their games in Los Angeles this season, the club would like to even this series before it shifts to Staples Center for Games 3 and 4. The third tilt is set for Thursday in L.A. and will be followed with Game 4 on Saturday.
Anaheim, the top seed in the West, finished 16 points ahead of Los Angeles in the Pacific Division standings and went 4-0-1 against the Kings during the regular-season series. However, a 3-0 win by Anaheim in L.A. on Jan. 25 marked the only encounter that was decided by more than one goal.
05/05 10:45:19 ET