It’s not how you start; it’s how you finish. The Vancouver Canucks proved that on Saturday night with a 2-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings at Rogers Arena staving off mathematical elimination for at least one more day.
After a slow start, the Canucks dominated the third period and scored two goals to knock off the Kings for the first time this season. Alex Edler and Brad Richardson scored for Vancouver, with Richardson’s winning goal coming with 1:23 left to play in regulation.
The Canucks sent 40 shots on goal against Jonathan Quick while Eddie Lack stopped 25 of 26 shots he faced.
After a slow start to the first period, the Canucks nearly capitalized on a giveaway by Jake Muzzin to Shawn Matthias who had a point blank chance in front of the net. Jonathan Quick was able to react quickly to keep the game scoreless midway through the first period.
The Kings do not give their opponents a chance to score as they boast a league best 2.05 goals against per game. Usually, a team’s best hope is to come up with a turnover or rebound chance to beat Quick, and that’s exactly what the Canucks had when Matthias found himself in front of the net.
Vancouver had another chance on net when Alex Burrows came in on net and had Henrik Sedin off to his right, but the Kings defense collapsed around Sedin to deny the centering pass, eliminating another scoring chance.
The Kings had the closest chance at a goal during the first period when Jarrett Stoll set up Dustin Brown for a wrist shot on net from the left face-off circle. The puck clanked off the right post, keeping the game scoreless after the first period.
It’s no mystery the teams don’t like each other, so it came as no surprise when the two sides combined for 30 hits during the opening period.
Eddie Lack made his best stop of the night up to that point when Jeff Carter skated in and patiently waited to set up Tyler Toffoli with a pass back out in front of the net. Lack was able to adjust and deny Toffoli with a kick save to keep things scoreless.
The game’s first penalty was issued 8:10 into the second period when Matt Greene was sent to the penalty box for a delay of game. With 1:10 left in the penalty, Kevin Bieksa was sent off for roughing as he tried to lay a hit on Trevor Lewis, who in turn tried to duck out of the way. Both Bieksa and the crowd disagreed the call, which nullified Vancouver’s first power play. Then with 34 seconds left in Greene’s penalty, Brad Richards was sent off for hooking creating a 4-on-3 power play for 34 seconds. After it was all said and done, the game would remain scoreless.
As the teams went back to full strength, Zack Kassian found Brad Richardson rushing in on net who had a fantastic chance on net with Quick down on the ground. Richardson was not able to get the puck up high enough, and once again, the Canucks were unable to capitalize on a quality scoring chance.
Frank Corrado took a pair of penalties late in the second period to send Los Angeles to the power play. Fortunately for the Canucks, the Kings have struggled all season against Vancouver on the power play with no goals in 16 opportunities during their previous four meetings of the year. The Kings couldn’t muster a shot on their first chance, but finally struck on their second chance.
When Jeff Carter dug a loose puck out from the boards in the corner, Vancouver had all four guys in one spot, leaving the front of the net wide open. Once Carter came up with the puck, Slava Voynov had come down from the point to position himself in front of Lack unguarded for the easy goal to give the Kings a 1-0 lead with 28 seconds left in the period. The goal, Voynov’s first in 60 games, was also the Kings’ first power play goal of the season against the Canucks.
It took just 19 seconds into the third period until Dustin Brown was sent off for roughing after delivering a big hit to Dan Hamhuis. Daniel Sedin quickly came up with a shot that created a rebound chance for Kevin Bieksa. With the net wide open, Bieksa overskated the puck and came up empty.
Moments later, Sedin came right back with a saucer pass to Alex Edler in front of the crease. The puck deflected off Edler’s skate, initiating a review. The power play goal stood as the replay showed Edler was simply stopping his momentum rather than kicking the puck.
The Canucks held a 10-0 advantage in shots to start the third period before Los Angeles finally got off their first shot of the period. Torts must have given a speech for the ages, or ritually sacrificed a 4th liner. The two power plays within two minutes could have also had something to do with it, but since when has logic been fun?
On their third power play of the period, the Canucks had a great chance on net to take the lead in the final moments of the advantage. Ryan Kesler found himself in front of the net with a loose puck created off a shot from Daniel Sedin. Amidst the scrum, Kesler was unable to get the puck over Quick’s pad as the game remained tied.
Late in the third period, the Canucks took the lead as Zack Kassian showed great patience finding Brad Richardson for the go-ahead goal with less than 90 seconds left. The goal faked out Quick who displayed his frustration by slamming his stick over the crossbar, prompting an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty to end any hope the Kings had to tie the game back up in the final minute.
The Canucks next challenge comes on Monday night when the Anaheim Ducks come to Rogers Arena. It’s no secret the Ducks know how to score against Vancouver, so it’ll take every trick Torts has left up his sleeve if the Canucks hope to live to see another day.
Yes, the Canucks chance of making it to the playoffs is about as high as (you fill in the blank in the comments below), but the guys on the broadcast summed it up best with this simple statement which I will leave you with tonight.
“It’s still a long shot, but at least it’s a shot.”