ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — The width of Alec Martinez’s shin guard was the difference between the Los Angeles Kings and the Anaheim Ducks in their playoff series opener.

Corey Perry had the puck on his stick with a nearly open net early in overtime, but Martinez managed to block the shot by the Ducks’ best goal-scorer. It happened in an instant, but both players were still thinking about the pivotal play a day later as they prepared for Game 2 on Monday night.

“I guess I channeled my inner goalie, playing in the driveway when I was younger,” Martinez said Sunday after the latest round of congratulations for his game-saving block. “I just tried to get in front of it, and maybe got a little bit lucky, too.”

No hockey game turns on one play, and the Kings wouldn’t have even made it to overtime without Marian Gaborik’s tying goal with 7 seconds left in regulation in their 3-2 win. Several minutes after Martinez’s big save, Gaborik’s game-winner put the Kings up 1-0 in the second round with their fifth consecutive playoff victory.

Both teams expect a long, taxing series between evenly matched opponents with a thorough mutual familiarity. They won’t be surprised if more games in the series come down to one blocked shot, one extra pass or one big save.

Perry still won’t soon forget his missed opportunity to put the Ducks in front in the series.

“I’ve seen it a few times,” said a grimacing Perry, who scored 43 goals in the regular season and two more in the first round against Dallas. “I was up for a while. You think about what it could have been.

“He made a great play,” Perry added. “I thought I had an open net, and obviously I tried to put it in, but he just got his leg on it, and I missed the rebound. Hopefully it’s a different bounce next time.”

Even before the late theatrics, the Southern California rivals’ first playoff meeting was every bit as entertaining as expected. The Kings have little trouble winning on the road, while the Ducks were a dominant home team this season — but neither team is likely to have a distinct home-ice advantage.

“I thought the atmosphere was great,” Kings forward Justin Williams said. “A lot of times when you’re on the road, all you want to hear is silence. But there wasn’t even much silence when we scored. There was a lot of Kings fans there and a lot of support for us, so that was the extra added element to the game. Usually when you score an overtime goal, it’s crickets in the building, and we heard a little something, so Kings fans are making their way down the freeway.”


Read more at CBS LA.

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