Game 4: Kings continue to circumvent Canucks' attack
Game 4: Kings 4, Canucks 1
The Kings took to the Staples Center ice Friday night to match up against their playoff nemesis from a year ago, the Vancouver Canucks. And for the fourth game in a row, the Kings look different.
The players on the ice are the same, the pairings are the same and their offensive philosophy is the same. The only difference is the Kings are wearing their fourth jersey in as many games.
Opening night, they wore the throwbacks; against the Canucks their wore their normal road whites; for the home opener, they wore their black third jerseys; Friday they wore their normal home blacks. I'm telling you, the Burger King jerseys are sure to be in the mix this season.
The Canucks come out of the gate focused, ready to try and get over the hump. In three games, they are 1-1-1, with the only win against the Panthers. And once again, Roberto Luongo is his acrobatic self, standing on his head to rob the Kings of several chances early.
But the Kings have obviously rattled Luongo, as Jarret Stoll scores to draw first blood. It's also the first time this season the Kings have scored first in a game, as well as the first time they have tallied one in the first period.
But any time the Kings get something going, the Kings turn around and negate it by getting a penalty. Perhaps out of frustration, Henrik Sedin gets called for hooking Michal Handzus. The Kings get an opportunity to put this game out of reach early. But then Kings defenseman Drew Doughty gets a high-sticking call, and halts the man advantage.
Another first for the Kings this season was their first fight. And for those of you who had Wayne Simmonds in the season pool for first fight, congratulations. Simmonds tangled with Andrew Alberts, and looked to be losing until a well-timed uppercut put him back in contention. Over at Hockeyfights.com, the tilt was voted to be a draw, and I'd have to agree.
Justin Williams scored a soft goal to make it 2-0. Rookie defenseman Jake Muzzin gets his first assist of his NHL career, while Ryan Smyth gets his second assist of the game and quietly collects his team-leading fifth point.
Despite having the lead, the Kings having a hard time clearing the puck,causing Jonathan Quick to face a lot of shots in the first two periods. The Canucks outshot the Kings 18-10 in the first two frames. But even though the Kings had fewer shots, they had better scoring chances.
The major difference between the last game in Vancouver and the game Friday night at Staples, are the lineup matchups. Last game, that lethal line of the Sedin Twins and Mikael Samuelsson were often matched up with the Kings inexperienced fourth line of Brad Richardson, Brayden Schenn and Kevin Westgarth.
On Friday, Terry Murray was able to dictate the last change on the ice, and he kept putting the Handzus line out there to match up against the Brothers of Obstruction. Only once did the talent of the Sedins get the better of the Handzus line, when Brother Daniel scored the lone Canucks goal in the third period.
But then the top line of Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown struck less than a minute later, when Brown was able to break free of the defense and crashed the net, only to find a Kopitar pass on his stick. The Kings captain scored to give the Kings their two-goal lead back. Then, Brown scored again five minutes later to put the game out of reach.
Jonny Quick again gets feted as the first star of the game, for his 26-save performance. And remember that frustration when the Kings would run into that hot goaltender? Guess what, the Kings now have a hot goaltender, and it feels good.
Everything was clicking for the Kings Friday night, except for one glaring hole: the power play. By going 0-fer-five, the Kings have only scored one PP goal this season. Again, it's only four games. But keep this in mind: this was the seventh-best team in the league playing with the man-advantage. Thus far, they are 27th. Just something to monitor...
So now the Kings have a bit of a break in the schedule, not hitting the ice at Staples until Wednesday. That's good news for me, as I can get some rest. Four games in six days... whew. I don't even play the games and I'm exhausted writing about them.
• AP: Brown’s 2 goals lead Kings past Canucks again
“I don’t know if it’s special, but it definitely feels good,” said Brown, who scored 50 seconds after Daniel Sedin(notes) trimmed the Kings’ lead to 2-1. “Especially to do it the way we did tonight, in front of our fans, that’s a big deal for us. It feels good, but we’re hopefully going on to bigger and better things than the first round of the playoffs.”• LA Times: Dustin Brown, Anze Kopitar are a winning combination
The nonfraternal anticipation that enabled Kings forwards Dustin Brown of Ithaca, N.Y., and Anze Kopitar of Jesenice, Slovenia, to combine for the third goal in a 4-1 victory at Staples Center on Friday night can't be explained by a shared heritage — but it was as splendid as any of the Sedin twins' best moves.• LA Kings: Dusty delivers as Kings topple Canucks
``It's nice to have a couple-goal cushion,’’ Kings center Anze Kopitar said. ``For them to score and us to come right back and score, that probably flattens their tires a little and pumps ours a little more. It's one of those things where they think they have the momentum coming their way and we get it right back, so that's obviously a good thing.''• NHL.com: Kings top Canucks 4-1
Los Angeles got another early goal in the second period, making it 2-0 at 3:36. Ryan Smyth carried the puck into the Vancouver zone, cut to the right and pushed the puck over to Jake Muzzin. The rookie couldn't handle it, but Williams picked it up, cut to the net and took a shot that hit the skate of Vancouver's Kevin Bieksa and trickled past Luongo, who made only 15 saves as the Canucks fell to 1-2-1.• Vancouver Sun: Canucks struggle with scoring continues in loss to Kings
For a fourth straight game, the Canucks were good with the puck, strong in possession in the offensive zone, quick on their skates and solid in their battles. They look like a very good team except for the scoring part.They said it
“The Stoll line was maybe our better line out there tonight, again. They were really pursuing the puck with good pressure, had a lot of composure, making plays, made good decisions through the center of the ice and ended up scoring. Williams’ goal is a nice attack, good attitude. Muzzin jumping up on the play, getting to the net, looking for those loose pucks. It’s a great read.” – Coach Terry Murray, on the play of the second line.
“We proved that we can play a pretty physical game, a good checking game too. It’s not easy to play against a team twice so I think Zeus [Michal Handzus] did a good job to shut them down. – Anze Kopitar, on his overall impressions of the game.
“It was a good momentum change for us, when we score back-to-back right after they score. We kind of took the wind out of their sails, which was a bit part of the game.” – Dustin Brown, on his two third-period goals.