For the second straight season, Bruce Boudreau’s Anaheim Ducks lost a Game 7 on home ice. The Ducks’ latest setback came Friday in the form of a 6-2 beatdown against the rival Los Angeles Kings.
While the Kings advance to the Western Conference Finals for the third straight season, Boudreau and the Ducks are left searching for answers. Dating back to his tenure with the Capitals, Boudreau is now 1-5 in Game 7s as an NHL head coach, with all six of those games coming on home ice.
“It’s a bitter pill to swallow,” said Boudreau who has led his teams to three regular-season conference titles, but has never advanced past the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
“I want to give the Kings credit. They played like Stanley Cup champions and I think that we were individually and collectively blown away by what they did,”
Anaheim’s Game 7 loss to the Kings had an eerily similar feel as the Capitals’ 2009 Game 7 loss at home against the rival Pittsburgh Penguins. Consider that in both cases: 1) the home team had an early breakaway from its leading goal-scorer (Alex Ovechkin in 2009; Corey Perry in 2014) but could not convert, 2) Boudreau pulled his rookie starting goalie once the visitors took a 4-0 second period lead (Semyon Varlamov in 2009; John Gibson in 2014) and 3) the home team pulled within 5-1 late in the second frame, before ultimately falling by a 6-2 score.
PLAYOFF KINGS: As the Ducks try to pick up the pieces after blowing a 3-2 series lead, the Kings now boast an impressive 6-0 record when facing elimination this spring. L.A. became just the fourth team in NHL history to rally from a 3-0 series deficit when they eliminated the San Jose Sharks 4-3 in Round 1, and then won the final two games of Round 2 against Anaheim.
ROAD KINGS: So much for home-ice advantage. The first two rounds of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs have included six Game 7s. Visiting teams are 5-1 in those winner-take-all matchups, including a perfect 3-0 in Round 2.
CAPS ALUM MOVES ON: The Kings’ win means that former Capitals defenseman Jeff Schultz has advanced to the conference finals for the first time in his NHL career.
Schultz signed a one-year deal with the Kings last summer after having the final year of his previous contract bought out by the Capitals. Schultz spent the entire regular season with the American Hockey League’s Manchester Monarchs, but finally made his Kings debut in Round 2 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Injuries to veteran defensemen Willie Mitchell and Robyn Regehr created an opening on the Kings blueline, with Schultz debuting in Game 2 of the Kings’ series against Anaheim and remaining in the lineup for the duration of their second-round series.
Schultz is the only former Capital remaining in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.