LOS ANGELES — The Anaheim Ducks and the Los Angeles Kings walked between the palm trees into the Dodger Stadium outfield, a beach volleyball court on their right and a Kiss performance stage to their left. A surprisingly good ice rink was straight ahead, glistening in the Hollywood night.
“We felt like rock stars,” said Anaheim defenseman Ben Lovejoy, a former WBS Penguin. “That was by far the coolest feeling I’ve ever had playing hockey.”
After all the spectacle and sensation of the NHL’s first warm-weather outdoor game, Jonas Hiller and the Ducks demonstrated who’s on top of this rivalry — with or without a roof.
Corey Perry and Matt Beleskey scored first-period goals, and the Ducks beat the Kings 3-0 at Dodger Stadium on Saturday night.
Hiller made 36 saves in his 20th career shutout as the league-leading Ducks dominated the landmark meeting of Southern California’s two hockey teams under the stars in Chavez Ravine. Andrew Cogliano added an empty-net goal with 1:29 left to close this unusual chapter in the NHL’s expanded slate of outdoor games.
“It’s a little different playing out here, but it’s nothing that threw us off,” Hiller said.
The league threw a California carnival for the event: People in shorts and tank tops played Frisbee and practiced yoga between periods while skateboarders rolled past a ball hockey court featuring youth teams.
Although the temperature was 63 degrees with significant humidity when Wayne Gretzky dropped the first puck, the ice held up fairly well in the night air. The Ducks had no problems adjusting to the new sightlines and backgrounds while shutting out the Kings.
“It was maybe a little slower than some rinks, but it was smooth,” Anaheim’s Teemu Selanne said. “We’re used to not-good ice out (West) anyway. The whole package was incredible. You don’t have that many chances to play in front of 55,000 people. This was pretty high on my bucket list.”
The Ducks earned their 21st victory in 24 games, beating Los Angeles for the second time in three days. The Kings lost their fifth straight game.