If a Stanley Cup defense and producing the NHL's second-best record isn't enough to recapture Southern California hockey fans scarred by this season's lockout, NHL officials provided another reason at Staples Center on Monday night.
They let the Kings and Ducks play the entire first period without a penalty, permitting a physical, crowd-pleasing contest loaded with 32 hits in the first 20 minutes and 65 in all.
"It's a physical game," Ducks defenseman Francois Beauchemin assessed in a television interview after the second period, when the Ducks picked up their lone penalty only because of the obvious fistfight between left-handers Sheldon Souray and Jordan Nolan of the Kings.
The subtle blind eyes by referees Stephen Walkom and Frederick L'Ecuyer and linesmen Steve Miller and Mark Wheler were at play quickly, when left wing Kyle Clifford hit the Ducks' Andrew Cogliano and Corey Perry of the Ducks responded by belting Nolan in front of the bench area.
Justin Williams of the Kings then shoved defenseman Bryan Allen into the boards.
Ducks defenseman Ben Lovejoy had four hits by himself in the first period.
Clifford and teammate Drew Doughty had four hits apiece by the end of the second period, which closed with Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi upending Perry, drawing roars in the bitter Southland rivalry game.
Doughty took the liberty of taking advantage of the softened supervision, unloading a hit on Beauchemin early in the third period, leveling the defenseman who had his fifth assist in two games Monday.
"When we play Anaheim, we know we always need to play them hard," Doughty said. "We made sure we stood our ground."
After scoring twice in the third to take a 4-2 lead, the defending champions affirmed their advantage with Keaton Ellerby slamming Daniel Winnik into the boards.
Jonathan Quick steps up
After surviving a power play with his team trailing 2-1 in the second period, Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick kept the Ducks scoreless for the game's final 36 minutes 44 seconds.
"We've been through times like that before," Quick said. "We've got a resilient group. We responded real well. Now we've got to keep winning.
"Even though it's a 48-game schedule, there are a lot of games in a few days, so it's still a grind. We've got a practice Tuesday, video to watch what we did wrong, and get back at it."
What might've been
The Ducks' failed bid to tie a team record with their seventh consecutive victory also deprived them of surpassing their best start since the Stanley Cup season of 2007 and kept rookie goaltender Viktor Fasth from tying Ray Emery's NHL record of starting 9-0.
The Ducks' run of six come-from-behind victories in a row before Monday hadn't been done in the NHL since 2006, by Columbus.