VANCOUVER – The Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings strolled into Rogers Arena on a five-game win streak Saturday, playing airtight defence and reminding one and all how they won the Cup.
Apparently that was just what the Vancouver Canucks needed to emerge from their slumber. The Canucks knocked off the Kings 5-2 before the 418th consecutive sellout at The Rog and made playoff MVP goalie Jonathan Quick look mortal.
Canuck forwards Mason Raymond, Daniel Sedin and Jannik Hansen all picked corners on Quick in the decisive second period as Vancouver pulled into a 4-2 lead after 40 minutes and locked it down in the third period for the victory.
The win snapped a two-game Canuck losing streak and a three-game losing streak on home ice. It was just the fifth win by coach Alain Vigneault’s skaters outside the weak Northwest Division in 13 outings (5-5-3). Inside the Northwest, Vancouver is a sublime 6-0-1.
The Canucks will try to make it a perfect weekend Sunday when they face the Flames in Calgary in a 5 p.m. Pacific time start.
“I think it’s always fun games against L.A.,” said Canuck captain Henrik Sedin, who added there was no extra satisfaction beating a team that knocked them out of the playoffs last spring. “It’s nice to get two points. It doesn’t matter who we play against. I mean, it’s a 48-game season so it doesn’t matter if it’s L.A. or Minnesota or whoever it is. It’s two points and we’re moving on to tomorrow.”
Canuck netminder Cory Schneider stopped 28 of 30 Kings shots and had a perfect third period with 10 saves. He mishandled the puck on L.A.’s second goal by Jordan Nolan but was otherwise solid in bouncing back from Tuesday’s loss to Phoenix. He made superb saves in the third on Jeff Carter, Dustin Penner and Slava Voynov, among others, to preserve the lead.
He was also pleased with the offensive support.
“Yeah, it was great,” he said. “L.A. is a team that doesn’t give up a whole lot so you have to have a good blend of hard work and some skill to finish it off on a goalie like Quick because he is so hard to beat. I thought we did a good job using our speed and finishing with really good shots.”
Kings head coach Darryl Sutter wasn’t terribly impressed with Quick’s performance and when asked if he felt his No. 1 man was fighting the puck a bit, the charming coach replied: “I agree.”
When asked what Quick needed to do to correct that, Sutter replied: “Stop fighting the puck.”
The Canucks struck first at the 3:43 mark of the first period on a sublime passing play from Henrik Sedin to Alex Burrows to Dan Hamhuis, who one-timed Burrows’s backhand feed past Quick.
Daniel Sedin had a chance to make it 2-0 midway through the first but Quick made the unusual crotch save while spreadeagled on his stomach. Kings forward Justin Williams nearly tied it with 13 seconds left in the opening 20 minutes but his power-play point shot struck the crossbar and sailed out of play.
The Kings pulled even at 6:12 of the middle period on their fourth power play of night as Williams didn’t miss on this occasion and one-timed Jake Muzzin’s feed past Schneider.
Raymond restored the lead at 10:32, scoring off the rush after Hansen’s nifty backhand pass at the Kings blueline caught Raymond in full flight. Nolan pulled the Kings even again as Schneider turned over the puck behind his net and was still swimming back when Nolan tucked in a backhander three minutes after the Raymond tally.
Daniel Sedin and Hansen then scored less than three minutes apart at 15:08 and 17:52 to put the Canucks in command. Chris Higgins added an empty-netter with 22.9 seconds remaining in the third.
Vigneault, wearing his lucky grey vest, was satisified with his team’s performance.
“It was better tonight from the whole group,” he said. “I thought Henrik’s line obviously showed the way tonight. They were up against (Anze) Kopitar’s line and they were real solid all game long. And Schneids, at the end of the game when he had to make some saves, was the better goaltender.”
ICE CHIPS: Mason Raymond, in his first game at centre, was 1-for-9 in the faceoff dot. The Canucks, as a team, won just 22 of 58 draws, or 38 per cent… Kevin Bieksa returned to the Canuck lineup after missing two games with a groin strain…Canuck healthy scratches Saturday were Keith Ballard, his first scratch of the season, and Cam Barker as Andrew Alberts stayed in the lineup… Newcomer Tom Sestito fought Nolanat 11:25 of the first period. Nolan challenged Sestito after the latter threw a heavy hit on Colin Fraser… The Canucks’ American League farm team, the Chicago Wolves, lost 2-1 Saturday to the San Antonia Rampage. Andrew Ebbett netted the lone Wolves’ goal.