After two games, the Los Angeles Kings looked like they might cruise to Western Conference Finals of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Entering Game Five, the team finds itself in danger of falling behind in its series with the Anaheim Ducks.
L.A. took the first two games in Anaheim with a chance to sweep at home. However, the Ducks played better on the road, taking both Games Three and Four. Now, the No.1 seed will play at home, with a chance to take the lead in the series.
The Ducks will start goalie John Gibson, who was perfect in Game Four. The rookie made his first appearance of the playoffs, stopping all 28 shots that came his way. He outperformed Jonathan Quick, who was pulled after allowing two goals in the first period.
"He is a very calm guy," Jim Johannson, USA Hockey's assistant executive director of hockey operations, told USA Today. "Once he's in the net, he just has the look and feel of a goalie who controls (it). He instills confidence in his teammates."
Anaheim has used three goalies in the series, but they might have finally found their answer in Gibson. The 20-year-old only played in only three NHL games, prior to the most recent contest. In just over 181 regular-season minutes, Gibson registered a 95.4 save percentage, picking up three victories.
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In order to get on the board, the Kings will need Anze Kopitar to perform like he has for much of the postseason. Game Four was the only time in this year’s playoffs that he didn’t register a point. Kopitar had three assists in the series opener.
Even though the road team has won all four games this series, Anaheim is favored to take a 3-2 series lead. Las Vegas casinos list the Ducks’ odds at -130. The underdog Kings come in at +110.
The NBC Sports Network will broadcast the game nationally at 10 p.m. ET. Viewers can watch a free live stream online with NBC Sports Live Extra.
The first four games have proven that home-ice advantage means very little in the matchup between these two teams. Whenever Gibson has been given a chance, he’s gotten the job done. Still, he has very little experience, and he’s going up against one of the best goalies in the hockey. Quick should have a bounce-back performance, which could be tough for Gibson to match.
Los Angeles 2, Anaheim 1