Marian Gaborik and the Kings stole the Ducks' magic, then made their own Saturday night in a captivating Game 1 of the first freeway series of hockey.
Gaborik scored with seven seconds remaining in regulation, and again, 12:07 into overtime to lift the Kings to a 3-2 victory in the Western Conference semifinal opener at Honda Center.
Thanks to a third assist from NHL playoff points leader Anze Kopitar, Gaborik deflected in the crisp pass toward Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller's right side, the puck striking the post before it went in, spawning a wild Kings celebration.
“It was a great pass,” Gaborik said. “I just tried to tip it.”
Kings Coach Darryl Sutter said Gaborik, tied for the NHL lead with five playoff goals, produced “classic goals … you have to go to the net to score in the playoffs.”
Gaborik became the first player in playoff history to score in the final 10 seconds of regulation, then get the winner in overtime.
The reversal of fortune was striking, considering the comeback routine the top-seeded, Pacific Division-champion Ducks have been in all season. They've rallied for 28 wins.
Now they've surrendered home-ice advantage and had a victory set up by their legendary icon swiped away.
Ducks forward Teemu Selanne beat Kings goalie Jonathan Quick 8:08 into the third period for a 2-1 lead.
Selanne, 43, and retiring at season's end, caught up to teammate Patrick Maroon on a drive to the net, gathered the puck and backhanded it through Quick for his first goal since March 23.
A night charged with fervent orange-towel-waving by the sellout home crowd amid chants of “Let's Go Ducks!” rose to its highest decibel following the Selanne goal.
When Gaborik struck, the smaller herd of Kings' fans roared, “Let's Go Kings!”
“It could've gone either way,” Ducks forward Andrew Cogliano said. “It's pretty painful right now, but you've got to move on. It's going to be a long series, and tonight showed that.”
As the Ducks' confidence took an unmistakable hit, the Kings' is stratospheric after a fifth consecutive win that follows their rally from a 3-0 first-round series hole to beat the San Jose Sharks in seven games.
“This is the hockey that you want to play,” Kings defenseman Alec Martinez said. “This is what you play for.”
Quick, after finishing with 33 saves, said, “Fortunate to get the win. Hard-fought game and we have to get ready for another one.”
Quick was out of net before the tying goal, with the Ducks in firm defensive mode and the final seconds ticking down when Gaborik swatted in a Mike Richards shot that bounced off Hiller and escaped Ducks defenseman Bryan Allen.
“He saw me in front and just threw it there and it just kind of trickled to me, and I think I batted it out of the air,” said Gaborik, a Kings' trade-deadline acquisition from Columbus.
“I thought I got a piece of it,” said Hiller, making his first start since April 6 after helping the Ducks clinch their first-round series Sunday. “We were not strong enough, maybe a little too passive there. It's too bad. Trying not to get scored on gave them some confidence.”