ANAHEIM, Calif. -- While pondering this season how it would all play out between California's three excellent squads, there was an unmistakable conclusion that just about everyone with sound judgment would arrive at.
It's why the Kings came back to beat the Sharks in the opening round, and it's why the 2012 Stanley Cup champs bused home Monday night with two Honda Center victories in their back pocket. The Ducks outshot the Kings 37-17 in Game 2 but beat the former Conn Smythe Trophy winner only once.
"We found a way to squeak one out because we have the best goalie in the world in our goal," Kings captain Dustin Brown said after the 3-1 victory. "They had the better chances, more shots, more opportunities. Jonathan Quick just finds ways to make saves. They were all over us, especially in the second, and we found a way to win because of Jonathan Quick."
Added a man who rarely dishes out individual praise: "The best player on the ice tonight was the goaltender for the Kings,'' said L.A. coach Darryl Sutter.
Sutter's counterpart, Bruce Boudreau, while also acknowledging the part Quick is already playing in this series, also saw what many of us did Monday night. While the Ducks did launch 37 shots at the star goalie, they didn't have enough second-wave opportunities. Too many one-and-dones, too much perimeter play despite the shot advantage.
"He was pretty good tonight, but if you don't get traffic in front of him and you don't go to the net, you're not going to score," said the Anaheim coach. "If he can see everything, he's going to stop it. ...
"There was no second chances," Boudreau later added. "They blocked out, and we didn't get to the front of the net to get the rebounds, to get the dirty, greasy goals, which is what we got all year. If we continue to play the perimeter, we're not going to have success against him."
Quick swallowed up pucks, which is part of the reason there weren't many second chances. The other part is that the Kings' defense corps boxed out awfully well again.
And that's certainly saying something about a group missing both Willie Mitchell and Robyn Regehr, a pair of valuable left-handed veterans. Matt Greene has been in for Mitchell since Game 7 of the first round, and Jeff Schultz, the former Washington Capital who spent the season in the AHL, stepped in Monday night and looked just fine, thank you. He certainly wasn't eased in, either, playing 19:58 minutes on the second pairing with Slava Voynov, which also included 2:24 of penalty-kill time.
"We talked about it yesterday, too: You don't want to split guys up, move guys around," Sutter said of pairing Schultz with Voynoz and keeping his other two pairs intact. "Jeff Schultz can play well in his own zone, he can move pucks and play well in his own zone. That's exactly what he did."