April 14, 2012
Kings kill 'em on the PKL.A. shocks Vancouver yet again
By RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency
VANCOUVER - One loss because of too many penalties.
A second defeat because of too many power plays.
Now the Vancouver Canucks — the NHL’s top regular-season squad and defending Western Conference champions — find themselves looking up from from a big deficit in their opening-round playoff series against the Los Angeles Kings.
Dustin Brown put himself into the Kings record book by scoring a pair of shorthanded goals in a three-point night to pace his team to a 4-2 victory Friday.
The Kings now have a two-games-to-none lead in the best-of-seven series and can take a death grip on an upset special when it resumes Sunday in Los Angeles.
So much for the Canucks' easy trip to the next round. Right now, the eighth-seeded Kings are giving the Presidents’ Trophy winners (who actually produced hats bragging about that achievement for their legions of fans to purchase) more than enough to handle.
That said, the underdogs expect to see Vancouver’s A-game when they meet again.
“It’s important for us to understand where we’re at and hit the rest button,” Brown said. “This team has dominated the regular season and majority of the playoffs last year, so I’m sure they’ve faced tougher situations than being down 2-0 in a series.”
Considering how the Kings played down the stretch, an upset wasn’t out of the question, but who could have predicted winning the first two games in Vancouver?
Los Angeles took advantage of Vancouver’s penalty parade in the opener, and then made the most of their own trips to the sin bin in a Game 2 victory that has the West Coast in a state of shock.
(We’ll save the lines about a state of martial law for a later date.)
“We didn’t think it was going to be easy. We didn’t think we were going to be down 2-0,” Canucks captain Henrik Sedin said. “We’re playing well enough five-on-five to win this game, the power play loses the game for us, and that can’t happen. We can’t go out there expecting to score every time but it’s got to gain some momentum for us, and we’re doing the opposite.”
It was a double dose of damage at key times.
Brown twice stunned the Rogers Arena sellout crowd of 18,890 by giving his team the lead, the first time with just 8.6 seconds remaining in the first period.
Vancouver's power play was a dismal 4-for-42 in the final 11 regular season games — with two of those goals coming in the final contest against the Edmonton Oilers — and was blanked in five chances in the series opener. This was an even worse performance.
“Our power play has to turn our momentum. It lost us the game,” said Canucks centre Ryan Kesler, whose pass to nowhere led to Brown’s second tally. “Just execution. Execution and communication.”
To add salt to the wound, the Kings also scored on the man-advantage, with Jarret Stoll doing the honours.
Trevor Lewis scored the final tally for the Los Angeles.
The Canucks fired 48 shots on goal against Kings goalie Jonathan Quick, but only Jannik Hansen and Samuel Pahlsson found the mark.
Now, the Canucks have to find a way to turn their fortunes in a hurry.
“What’s done is done right now. We have a good group of guys here. We’ve proved all year that when we faced adversity, we come out and we play hard. It’s all about next game,” Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo said. “You’ve got to give those guy’s credit. They came in here with a game plan and executed it well and they got two big wins. Now it’s our turn to respond and make sure that we get a good game plan heading into L.A. and we stick to it.”
On Twitter: @SUNRandySportak