LOS ANGELES – The sputtering Los Angeles Kings decided to shake things up with a change in goal, and the move nearly paid off.
Looking to end a four-game winless streak, the Kings had opted to give Erik Ersberg his first start of the season. The 26-year-old Swede played well enough to win, but had to settle for helping Los Angeles gain just its second standing points in its last five games (0-3-2) when Chris Pronger scored 40 seconds into overtime to give the Anaheim Ducks a 1-0 victory Tuesday night.
“I liked his game a lot,” said Kings coach Terry Murray of Ersberg. “Having not played in several weeks here, he showed a lot of composure; he was very calm, under control and made some very big stops.”
Jason LaBarbera had started all 11 of the Kings’ prior games, including a 6-3 victory over the Ducks when the teams last met on October 14.
Ersberg had replaced LaBarbera mid-game on two occasions, giving up two goals on 14 shots.
The second-year NHL goalie’s lone miscue Tuesday occurred just as Kings forward Wayne Simmonds raced from the penalty box after serving a hooking penalty called with 1:24 to play in regulation. The penalty carried into overtime and the Ducks were able to continue on the attack as it ended.
“I knew the guy was coming out of the box so I shot it, luckily it went off the crossbar and in,” said Pronger. “We did enough to win, but that’s not good enough for this group.”
Jean-Sebastien Giguere was brilliant making 35 saves to earn his second shutout of the season and 31st of his career.
“On the road it might not be perfect, but the important thing is we got two points,” said Giguere. “Every time we played the Kings so far in either exhibition or regular season, they’ve given us a run for our money.”
By getting past the Kings and a 26-save effort by Ersberg, the Ducks have now earned 15 of 16 standings points (6-0-1) in their last eight games.
It was also the first time in 43 trips to Los Angeles that the Ducks left town with a shutout win. The Southern California rivals had only skated through a 1-0 game on one prior occasion. Jamie Storr backstopped the Kings to a 1-0 win in LA on April 14, 2002.
The Ducks power play had been a sizzling 10-for-29 (35.5%) over the prior six games, but Kings penalty killers were able to shutdown all five Anaheim power plays Tuesday. Anaheim had to kill six LA power play chances.
“They had a couple great chances, but (Giguere) was up to the task and made some great saves for us to keep the score 0-0 and give us a chance to try and find that winning goal,” said Pronger.
Ersberg was equally as sharp as Giguere in just his third appearance this season.
“I think I played pretty well, we got one point, I guess that’s good,” said Ersberg, who had stopped 29 of 30 shots in his only other appearance against the Ducks, a 2-1 shootout loss on March 26, 2008. “I guess its a game to build on.”
In 14 appearances last season, Ersberg compiled a 6-5-3 record with a 2.48 goals-against-average and a .927 save-percentage, tops among LA goalies.
After a lacklustre opening period Tuesday, things got heated in the second when Kings rookie forward Brian Boyle sent Ducks right wing Rob Niedermayer sprawling headfirst into the board with a check near centre ice. Following a brief scuffle the Kings were set up with a four-minute power-play, but the advantage was quickly offset by a subsequent hooking penalty on Michal Handzus.
Kings forward Alexander Frolov had a breakaway with nine minutes to play in the second, but couldn’t beat Giguere.
Notes: Kings defenceman Dennis Gauthier skated in his 500th NHL game. … Ducks forward George Parros remains day-to-day after suffering a right-eye abrasion against Vancouver last Friday.