The Anaheim Ducks were down 0-2 in their playoff series with the Los Angeles Kings, having lost both games at home. As they enter Game Six, the Ducks are a victory away from reaching the Western Conference finals.
The Ducks have won the last three contests, including two on the road. On Wednesday night, they’ll return to Staples Center, where they outscored the Kings 5-2.
Anaheim has turned the series around with improved play from their goalie. More specifically, rookie John Gibson has outperformed the Kings’ Jonathan Quick. In Game Four, he shut out L.A. in a 2-0 victory. Gibson surrendered three goals in Game Five, but he stopped 39 shots and allowed the Ducks to get the victory.
"I don't think it was a question of if we get good goaltending. I think it was a question of who was going to give it to us," Ducks forward Nick Bonino said, via the L.A. Times.
Anaheim knows they can’t underestimate Los Angeles. It’s not the first time the Kings have faced eliminated in the 2014 NHL playoffs. The Kings played four elimination games in the first round, and survived every one. After falling behind 3-0 in their series with the San Jose Sharks, L.A. went on a four-game winning streak.
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Not only did the Kings win four straight games, but they were dominant. L.A. outscored San Jose 18-5, and no contest was decided by less than three goals.
"I love those opportunities," Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said Tuesday, via the Associated Press. "I love the pressure. I know going into those games I'm going to be counted upon. Because we're comfortable in that situation, we know exactly how desperate we have to play.”
The Kings are used to playing in big games. A large portion of the roster helped L.A. win the Stanley Cup just two years ago.
Even after three straight losses, the Kings are expected to force a Game Seven. Their betting odds have been placed at -140 at Las Vegas casinos. Anaheim is a slight underdog at +120.
Game Six is set to begin at 9:30 p.m. ET. The NBC Sports Network will have the TV broadcast, and viewers can watch a free live stream online with NBC Sports Live Extra.
If Anaheim wins, they’ll go on to face the Chicago Blackhawks in the next round. The defending champs beat the Minnesota Wild in six games.
Prediction: Anaheim 3, Los Angeles 2