Kings Coach Darryl Sutter was searching for answers during a 7-4 loss to… (Stephen Dunn / Getty Images )
His hockey team kept losing its grip on the lead, and its composure, and found a convenient target — the officials.
"It was like, 'Whoa.' You're on the stagecoach and you're pulling the reins back on the horse," Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "We've got to have a little bit of composure. That's what good teams do. They don't get rattled. I think they took a cue from the veterans on that and didn't get rattled. We kept staying the course."
First, you would expect the Western references to come from Kings Coach Darryl Sutter. But everything was running against type Saturday night in Anaheim as the Ducks beat the Kings, 7-4.
The reigning Stanley Cup champion Kings were running around, constantly scrambling from behind and their usually formidable penalty-killing skills nearly vanished. The Ducks scored on three of four power-play opportunities in what equaled the highest-scoring game between the teams in their 109-game series.
Fourth-line center Nick Bonino of the Ducks had his first career hat trick, and had an assist on Teemu Selanne's empty-net goal. Long Beach's Emerson Etem had his first two points, both assists.
Bonino said his last hat trick, at any level, came in Italy during the lockout.
"Before that, it was probably high school," he said.
The Ducks possibly could be without the services of young defenseman Cam Fowler, who left in the second period after a hit from behind from center Jarret Stoll. It appeared to be a head injury, and although Boudreau called for the NHL to have a look at the play, the league said Sunday there would not be a hearing on the hit.
The wild game was tough on all three goalies — Jonas Hiller of the Ducks, andJonathan Quick and Jonathan Bernier of the Kings.
Sutter had to replace Quick with Bernier only 5 minutes 49 seconds into the game.
"I hate myself for pulling goalies. I do. It bothers me," Sutter said Sunday after practice. "I don't like highlighting somebody. It's always taken as a criticism, right? First off, the guy that's going in better be ready and secondly, the guy you pulled better be ready again."
Sutter said he couldn't count more than seven or eight times in his years of coaching where he had to make that kind of change.
"We want our goalies to play better. They're not protected species, that's for sure," he said. "Both of them have to play a hell of a lot better. They both want to be starting goalies, right? Our save percentage right now has to be a lot better."
Said Quick: "If a game like that doesn't bother you, something is wrong. It should bother you. You get the start, you give up two goals and are pulled a few minutes later. How you use it is gonna show your character if you use it to motivate you for the next game."
Sutter had the first and second power-play units on the ice for about half an hour before the regular session started. It also appeared that left wing Dustin Penner and center Colin Fraser could be the odd men out of the lineup Tuesday at Columbus.
Also assembled was a line featuring former Philadelphia Flyers Simon Gagne, Mike Richards and Jeff Carter. Sutter spoke about Gagne and other veteran forwards going "in and out during games."
"I'm not singling Gagne or Willy [Justin Williams] out or anybody like that," he said. "But this is a totally different team, quite honest, when you're playing those kids on defense ... it totally changes how your team has to play or what you're trying to do. It puts a lot more onus on that veteran group to be consistent. If they're not, you're just going to struggle with it."
vs. San Jose
Where: Honda Center.
On the air: TV: Fox Sports West; Radio: 830.
Record vs. Sharks: 0-0-1.
Update: San Jose has played in three consecutive shootouts, winning two, including Tuesday's victory against the Ducks.