Dustin Penner and the Ducks didn't want to take to the Dodger Stadium ice Saturday night for the Stadium Series not knowing if they could beat the Kings.
After losing to the Kings last month and shrinking through a flat, scoreless first period, Penner fought through traffic to force in a second-period power-play goal followed four minutes later by teammate Patrick Maroon's wraparound, and the Ducks won, 2-1, Thursday night at Honda Center.
"This is the type of game you put up on the bulletin board and say, 'This is what playoff hockey is all about,'" Penner said.
"There's always frustration when you get shut out [in the first period] like that in your own building, but it's how you bounce back. The team showed a lot of resolve [and] wouldn't be in the position we are now if we … took it the rest of the game."
After Kings forward Anze Kopitar scored on Ducks rookie goalie Frederik Andersen three minutes 13 seconds into the game, Andersen responded with a 30-save effort to make the Ducks (38-10-5) an NHL-best 16-6-1 in games in which they've given up the first goal.
"We know we have to go through them to win the Stanley Cup," Ducks defenseman Ben Lovejoy said after delivering a big second-period hit on Kings center Jarret Stoll that preceded the two goals. "We're a team that knows we can turn it on. We needed a few big plays to get it going on, then we were able to keep the pressure on them the rest of the game. We can play any style and match up with the style of a team like L.A."
The Kings (29-17-6), who've won just once in their past 10 road games, lost their fourth consecutive game to cap a disappointing trip.
"We came out strong and got ourselves into a little bit of penalty trouble," forward Trevor Lewis said after the team took five, Penner scoring on the final one. "We've got to stay a little bit more disciplined."
The Kings also went scoreless on four power plays as their skid in man-advantages extended to three for 27.
"At the end of the day, it doesn't matter if you're getting good looks or if you're tapping it into the open net," Kopitar said. "It's a matter of getting it done. It doesn't matter if it goes off somebody, a broken play. You've just got to get it done."
Asked how his team can break through with a victory Saturday, Kings forward Justin Williams said, "A lot more jam.
"The Stadium Series is kind of for everyone else," Williams said. "Yeah, it's cool, but we're there to win a hockey game. ... They're the best team in the league right now and if we have to win it 1-0, we need to win it 1-0."
The Ducks' second-period rally also had the fuel of a goal denied, when referee Eric Furlatt waved off Tim Jackman's redirected Lovejoy shot, contending Jackman hit Kings goalie Jonathan Quick before Lovejoy's shot reached the goalie.
Replays showed Jackman lightly brushed Quick's right arm as the Lovejoy shot whistled through, with more contact following as the puck passed the goal line.
Then ex-King Penner made his old team pay after Stoll committed interference.
Penner twice followed his own shot, banging it in past Quick and two other Kings in the crease with 6:09 left in the second.
Fourth-line member Maroon then gave the Ducks a 2-1 lead, forcing a turnover, accepting the puck back and getting a wraparound shot past Quick with 2:07 left in the second.
Before the game, Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau said he could make the case Maroon has been his team's best forward in the last week and that effort earned the 6-foot-3, 230-pound rookie the start over constants Kyle Palmieri and Daniel Winnik.
"He's big, he hits, he gets goals," Boudreau. "He makes it awful difficult to give him a night off."
Meanwhile, Kings center Mike Richards said, "As the season goes on, you want to be getting better at different things, and not taking a step backward. There are small things that we have to correct. Small things everybody can do better."