The Anaheim Ducks will try to take the Western Conference semifinals on Wednesday by recording a fourth straight win over the Los Angeles Kings in Game 6 from Staples Center.
Anaheim lost the first two games of this best-of-seven series on home ice, but has since rattled off three consecutive victories to grab a 3-2 advantage over the Kings. The Ducks became the first home team to win a game in this series when it notched a 4-3 win in Monday's Game 5 encounter in Orange County.
The Kings, however, are unbeaten in elimination games this spring. L.A. won four in a row to beat San Jose in the opening round after dropping the first three games of that set, becoming the fourth club in NHL history to win a series after falling behind 3-0.
The emergence of John Gibson has been the big story over the last two games, as the Ducks rookie goaltender is 2-0 with a 1.50 goals against average and .957 save percentage since getting the surprise start in Game 4. The 20-year- old posted a 28-save shutout in his postseason debut in Game 4 at Los Angeles and stopped 39-of-42 shots in Monday's close victory.
"I think I got tested more," said Gibson after Game 5. "I got more shots, and the guys did a really good job in front of me again. That's why we're winning."
Devante Smith-Pelly scored twice on Monday to help move Anaheim one victory away from its first appearance in the conference finals since 2007, when the team won its only Stanley Cup title.
"It's huge. That's a pretty good team over there and we don't want to give them too many chances to get off the mat," said Smith-Pelly about the upcoming game. "We're going to be ready for that game, for sure."
Nick Bonino and Jakob Silfverberg also scored goals for the Ducks, who won the Pacific Division title this year before beating the Dallas Stars in the opening round.
Ducks forward Mathieu Perreault returned Monday from a one-game absence due to a lower-body injury. He assisted on one of Smith-Pelley's goals and has five points (2G, 3A) in nine postseason games this spring. Fellow forward Matt Beleskey has missed the last two games for Anaheim with a lower-body injury and is questionable for Game 6.
Marian Gaborik lit the lamp twice in the loss and Trevor Lewis added the other goal for the Kings. Jonathan Quick give up all four goals on 24 shots in the loss.
"Now we have to go home and win a home game," said Los Angeles forward Anze Kopitar. "That's the bottom line. There is no secret to it. We want to come back here and give us a chance."
Gaborik leads all players with eight goals in the playoffs, while Kopitar has 16 points for the top spot in the postseason
The Kings, the 2012 Stanley Cup champions, are attempting to make the conference final round for a third straight spring.
This series, which has been dubbed the "Freeway Faceoff," is the first playoff matchup between these Southern California rivals.