With the preseason serving as the laboratory for the NHL’s new 3-on-3 overtime format, the Los Angeles Kings and the Anaheim Ducks made for the ideal guinea pigs. The Southern California rivals were in mid-season form with crazy crashes and fierce fights on Tuesday night, that overtime was inevitable. Anaheim forward Corey Perry stole the show with two goals including the game winning goal in overtime to give the Ducks the 2-1 victory.
“I think (Rickard Rakell) had a great vision,” Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau said on his center who made the assist on the overtime goal. “He saw the play before he went in, so he could spin and knew where (Corey Perry) was. If you go get the puck and then start looking for the play, you don’t make it. That’s a really skilled play.”
Perry was targeted by the Kings in multiple occasions. Luckily for him, he now has defenseman Kevin Bieksa (acquired from Vancouver) around to protect him. The 34-year-old veteran from Grimsby, Ontario came to the rescue and tangled with Kyle Clifford of the Kings, which made for good entertainment for the home crowd.
“That’s perfectly what his reputation is as a team player, as a leader,” Boudreau said. “That’s what you see when you see that. He sees our best scorer getting tangled with somebody and it doesn’t matter, he just jumps right in and protects them. Not that Corey needs a lot of protection, but at the same time that’s what great team guys do. We’re learning quickly that he’s a great team player.”
“I have already talked to him about it and said thank you,” Perry said. “You need guys like that on a team, ones that will stick up for everybody. It’s not just him; there were a few guys out there tonight.”
“When you think about it, who would have thought,” Boudreau said. “They’re teammates now, that’s one great thing about sports. When you’re teammates you stick up for each other.”
Anaheim goalie Anton Khudobin stopped 31-of-32 shots on goal while Los Angeles goalie Jhonas Enroth stopped 28-of-30 shots. Both teams have established starters in front of the net but the two goalies did well enough to state a case to make their respective teams.
“There were a good amount of shots and a couple of good chances at both ends,” Enroth said. “Both goalies made a couple of good saves. It was definitely a nice game for the goalies.”
Khudobin was acquired from Carolina, where he went 8-17 in 34 games with a goals against average of 2.72. Enroth came to LA from Dallas after posting a 18-26 record and a 3.07 GAA in 50 games. Both goalies are trying to make their respective teams as backup goalies in playoff contenders.
“I’ve been here two or three weeks now and you can tell why these guys have been so successful the last couple of years,” Enroth said. “All of them are true champions and it’s definitely a step up from what I’ve been used to the last couple of years. I’m excited to be here.”
This was the 21st preseason game to go into overtime this year. Of the 21 overtime finishes so far in the preseason, only four of them have ended in a shootout. If preseason results are an accurate predictor of the regular season, the 3-on-3 overtimes will likely lead to a sharp decline in shootouts in the regular season.
“It will eliminate a percentage of them (shootouts),” Kings head coach Darryl Sutter said. “Obviously it’s still preseason, so teams are going to generally have three top players out there”
“If you miss the net, you have pretty much put all of your eggs in one basket, and they are going the other way,” Perry said. “It is just the little things, we talk about not giving the puck away, not giving it up, and holding onto it, but if we don’t get it, we start all over again and get fresh guys on the ice. It’s going to be trial and error, and that’s why we are doing it”.