ANAHEIM, Calif. -- It was late in the second period and the chants began.
"Let's Go Ducks" was followed in rhythm by "Go Kings Go" and on and on it went for a few minutes, local hockey fans playing out their ultimate fantasy after 20 years of waiting.
Southern California finally has its playoff series, and Game 1 did not disappoint. In fact, it might have raised the bar.
"It was awesome," Kings head coach Darryl Sutter said following a thrilling 3-2 OT win. "It's what you expect. The building was great. It was a physical game and I think the crowd really responded to that. Going to be a good series, I hope."
Hey, if Darryl Sutter is excited, you know it was great.
Then again, he had another reason to be smiling. The no-quit Kings did it yet again Saturday night, erasing a 2-1 Ducks lead with seven seconds to go and then winning in overtime 12:07 into the extra session, Marian Gaborik authoring both clutch goals. And this after losing defenseman Robyn Regehr to injury midway through the opening period.
After the Kings erased a 3-0 series deficit to the San Jose Sharks last round, absolutely nobody should have been surprised they found a way again Saturday.
"I think we showed in the last series our team doesn't give up," said Kings defenseman Drew Doughty, who played a game-high 33:06. "We're a very resilient team. We never once believed that we were going to lose that game. And even with a minute left and the timeouts were called, we really believed that we were going to get that goal. Maybe it was a lucky goal or whatnot, but it doesn't matter how it went in. It went in. And then we took it over in overtime."
Well, not quite. It was Anaheim that came out roaring in overtime, Corey Perry missing an incredible chance when his shot at an open cage was stopped by a sliding Alec Martinez. A kick save and a beauty.
The Ducks pressured early and often but couldn't get the winner. So, you knew what you happen next, the hockey gods always punishing you for not converting early chances.
The Kings got theirs, Jeff Carter starting the play on the forecheck by forcing a turnover, the puck got to Doughty, who pinched in on the sideboards and made an all-world play in traffic to get a quick backhand out to Anze Kopitar in the slot. Kopitar, having a Conn Smythe Trophy spring so far, then found Gaborik for the tip-in winner.
"I knew Kopy was in that slot, we had a mini 4-on-2, I was kind of lucky because I thought he might go back and cover my spot for me, but he stayed right where I wanted him to, and I just sent the puck in an area and it got to him,'' said Doughty.
Kopitar and Gaborik put up three points each, continuing to evolve their impressive chemistry.
"When you play [Gaborik] and Kopy together, they're like this dynamic duo," said Doughty. "When they're both on their games, it's hard to stop them."