The LA Kings forge some playoff mettle with comeback overtime win in Game Two

The shot of Anze Kopitar #11 of the Los Angeles Kings gets by Roberto Luongo #1 of the Vancouver Canucks for the overtime winning goal as Sami Salo #6 and Alexander Edler #23 of the Vancouver Canucks and Ryan Smyth #94 and Michal Handzus #26 of the Los Angeles Kings look in Game Two of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs at General Motors Place on April 17, 2010 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Los Angeles won 3-2. Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

Anze Kopitar #11 of the Los Angeles Kings is congratulated by teammates Drew Doughty and Jack Johnson after scoring the game winning goal against the Vancouver Canucks during the overtime period in Game Two of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on April 17, 2010 at General Motors Place in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)Game 2: Kings 3, Canucks 2 (overtime)

The Kings responded to their Game One overtime loss to the Canucks by showing they have a flair for the dramatic. After being down two goals in a lackluster first period, the Kings battled back to tie the game, then push it to overtime, where Anze Kopitar scored to send the teams back to L.A. with the series all knotted up.

After Game One, Terry Murray decided he needed a change at the top of the lineup. So he made Justin Williams a healthy scratch. He moved Wayne Simmonds up to the top line which, in turn, allowed Fredrik Modin to skate on the line with Michal Handzus and Brad Richardson. Scott Parse filled in at the bottom of the lineup, skating with Jim Halpren. Murray also replaced Raitis Ivanans and Randy Jones with Richard Clune and Peter Harrold.

It was suggested by the Hammer that adding a gritty player like Simmonds to the top line and mixing the lines a bit would open up the game. It did and then some.

At first, the Kings came out and exceeded their intensity from the previous game. You could tell by their body language that they felt they should have won Game One. They outshot the Canucks, 8-4, and showed a lot of hustle. The only problem was the Canucks scored twice on Jonathan Quick. Twice, out of four shots. Things didn't look good for L.A.

After the second goal to Vancouver's Mikael Samuelsson (his third of the playoffs), you could tell the Kings lost some steam. The game, which was played at a fevered pitch for half the period, slowed considerably. It was almost as if the club reassessed how they should attack the deep and dangerous Canucks. They could run and gun with Vancouver for a while, but Vancouver has too many experienced weapons to sustain such an attack. So the Kings decided to sit back and wait for Stick In a Box to make a mistake.

They got that mistake when Shane O'Brien was called for roughing Richard Clune. Drew Doughty held in a Canuck clearing pass, and passed it to Dustin Brown. The Captain spotted a charging Jack Johnson and sent a cross-ice pass to him. Luongo was able to stop the shot, but couldn't control the rebound, which allowed the Triple Gold Club member to pop it in for his second power play goal of the playoffs, and brought the Kings within one.

35 seconds later, as the Canucks tried to pull themselves together, the top line struck. The Canucks were buzzing around Jonathan Quick, when the puck worked its way to the boards. Anze Kopitar snatched the puck and streaked up the right side. Thanks to a tripped-up Sami Salo, the Kings's top line got a three-on-one and skated in on Luongo. Smyth was skating on the left side with Simmonds close behind, which gave Kopitar a lot of options. Kopitar held onto the puck, just as Smyth collided with Alexander Edler in front of Luongo. Kopitar hit Simmonds, who scored easily on the one-timer to tie the game.

Two bang-bang plays showed how opportunistic the young Kings are. After the Simmonds goal, the game settled down for the rest of the period and into the third. The Canucks seemed stunned, and could only muster five shots. The youthful Kings had all the momentum, continuing their attack on Bobby Lu with 11 shots in the third. And for the eighth time this month, the Kings remained unbeaten in regulation and headed to sudden death overtime.

Once again, the Kings played sound defense as Vancouver found their second wind. But that wind was deflated when Stick in The Box was called for too many men on the ice after a lackadaisical line change, when the puck hit Kevin Bieksa as he was skating off the ice. And Kopitar notched the game-winner, with a little help from Luongo's stick. Kopitar took a shot from the left side, which was deflected by to him. The big Slovenian took a second whack at the puck, which was accidentally knocked into the goal by the butt end of the goalie's stick.

The Kings celebrated in front of a stunned General Motors Place, as did their beleaguered fan base. The last time the Kings won a playoff game was April 27, 2002, when Glen Murray scored in the second overtime of a scoreless game against the Colorado Avalanche. Who would have thought that it would take this long to get back into the playoffs?

It goes to show you that you should never take winning for granted. That's hard to do in the City of Angels, when you have one of the most winningest franchises in all of sports down the hall at Staples Center. Kings fans should savor this satisfying win as the series heads back to Staples for Game Three.

Los Angeles Kings' Wayne Simmonds, right to left, celebrates his second period goal against the Vancouver Canucks with teammates Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams in the first round of a NHL western conference playoff hockey game at GM Place in Vancouver, Canada, on Saturday, April 17, 2010. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Jonathan Hayward)• AP: Kopitar scores in OT for Kings
“To be able to get a split, to play in this building and deal with the emotion of playing in Canada, it was a real good, solid team effort,” Kings coach Terry Murray said. “The young guys played well. They played like veterans for me.”
• LA Times: Anze Kopitar, Kings are finally rewarded for extra effort
Youthful enthusiasm overtook experience Saturday, giving the Kings a split of their first two playoff games against the Vancouver Canucks and a passing grade on their first significant test as a team with greater aspirations than recent playoff history.
• LA Kings: Kopi-Star!!!
"I knew they were making a line change," Scuderi said of the Canucks. "I wish I could take total credit for the way it worked out, but I did just take a chance. I figured if no one touched the puck, we had a winger up above. I think we might have had a 2-on-1 because they had their D changing. We just got lucky with the fact that he touched it. I thought he was going to let it go because they had some guys on the ice. I think if it slides past him, they [the refs] don't make the call, but it looked like at least seven or eight guys on the ice at the time. It was a call they couldn't pass up."
• NHL.com: Kings even series with 3-2 OT win over Canucks
The best thing for the second game in a row was the power play. After scoring twice with the man advantage in Game 1, the Kings scored two more times in Game 2. If they keep up that pace, it might not matter that they have just one even-strength goal in nearly 140 minutes of play in this series.
• NHL.com: Kopitar celebrates Kings' series-tying win
"It's great," said Kopitar. "Obviously you want to get every win possible, but to get a split, especially in this building, it's a pretty loud building, it's a tough place to play. Going back to L.A. with a split, that's huge for us."
• NHL.com: Simmonds steps up when Kings need him most
What (Terry Murray) saw was his top line actually playing like a top line. They controlled the puck in the Canucks zone and cycled the puck pretty consistently, something that was lacking in Game 1. Besides the game-tying goal in the second period, Simmonds also drew a holding penalty against Canucks defenseman Andrew Alberts early in the third period.
• ESPNLosAngeles: Kings eventually thrive after changes
As Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar stood outside the Kings' locker room in front of a television monitor and watched his game-winning power-play goal in overtime to give the Kings a 3-2 win against the Vancouver Canucks and tie their Western Conference series at a game apiece, he simply smiled and said, "Lucky."
• ESPNLosAngeles: Tale of two months for Drew Doughty
The last time Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty skated on the ice at General Motors Place two months ago, he was cheered on by nearly 19,000 fans as one of the young superstars on Team Canada's gold-medal-winning team.  Now the 20-year-old London, Ontario, native is public enemy No. 1 at the arena known as Canada Hockey Place during the Winter Olympics.
They said it
 “We didn’t let down. I thought, in the last part of the first period, we played really good. We really got our game going, which is the forechecks and the cycles. In the second, we got rewarded with a couple goals, and then I thought we played really smart and we didn’t sit back. We just kept going after them and it paid off.” – Anze Kopitar , on the comeback.
“The power play has been huge. We work on it every day and we’ve been watching a lot of video on it. We watched their PK to see what they do, and we’ve done a great job so far. Hopefully we can continue to capitalize, because that’s where we’re getting our scoring chances.” – Drew Doughty , on the power play
“We’ve been in that situation many times before. It wasn’t the first time that we’ve been down a couple goals. We said the same thing we’ve said all year, play like it’s 0-0. We were getting shots and we were getting chances. Luongo made some great saves there early to keep us off the board. We knew if we kept that pressure up, sooner or later we were going to get a couple bounces.” – Jonathan Quick , on the comeback.
“Obviously it feels good to score, but I think we’ve played two very similar games. They could have gone either way, and that’s what makes this a lot of fun. A lot of tight games, two overtime games, and I’m sure we’re going to see some more of that. Personally, again, it’s fun to score and contribute. I thought we played two good games that could have gone either way, but it was nice to get the second one here for Jonathan (Quick) and get that win.” –Fredrik Modin , on having two of the five Kings' playoff goals.
"I knew they were making a line change. I wish I could take total credit for the way it worked out, but I did just take a chance. I figured if no one touched the puck, we had a winger up above. I think we might have had a 2-on-1 because they had their D changing. We just got lucky with the fact that he touched it. I thought he was going to let it go because they had some guys on the ice. I think if it slides past him, they don’t make the call, but it looked like at least seven or eight guys on the ice at the time. It was a call they couldn’t pass up.” – Rob Scuderi , on drawing the OT penalty.

“It was the wrong call. You're allowed five feet and the rule is the player coming on the ice cannot play the puck. Yeah, the puck touched one of our players ... it touched Kevin Bieksa trying to get off the ice because he was cut. We've got two referees with red stripes on their sweaters and they should make the call if they think it's a penalty, not the linesman. It's unfortunate, but that's the way it is.” – Canucks coach Alain Vigneault , on the too many men call.
“There wasn’t a whole lot said. That’s been one of our trademarks all year long. I think that our team has shown great grit over the year. To me, in the National Hockey League you’re going to get into hard situations. You’re going to get down. You’re going to get down one, two, and you’ve got to find a way to dig in and battle back. That’s what is critical to playing this game, that you have the ability to show that grit and determination to come back. We’ve done it many times before. We did talk about that at the end of the first period. `We’ve got to find a way. We’ve got to get one in the first 10 minutes and just build on that.”’ – Terry Murray , on what was said after the 2-0 deficit
 

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