Dustin Brown was a belated video review from joining Wayne Gretzky in the Los Angeles Kings' history books on Friday night.
He'll have to settle with a share of the NHL record after scoring two shorthanded goals as the Kings shocked Vancouver 4-2 at Rogers Arena to take a 2-0 lead against the top-seeded Canucks in the Western Conference Quarterfinals. When it comes to making history, though, the Kings' captain was only concerned with leading Los Angeles to its first playoff series win since 2001.
"It was important for our top guys to lead by example," Brown said after scoring the Kings' first two goals. "You need big performances at this time of year."
When Brown was credited with a power-play goal 8:30 into the third period, it appeared to be the Kings' biggest performance since Wayne Gretzky scored the team's last playoff hat trick in 1993 against Toronto.
The goal was changed to Jarret Stoll after a post-game review, but the night still belonged to Brown, who opened the scoring shorthanded with 8.6 seconds left in a spirited first period. Jannik Hansen, promoted to the top line as part of a shakeup, responded 17 seconds into the second period, but Brown added his second shorthanded goal – tying an NHL single-game playoff record accomplished 12 times previously – on a breakaway five minutes later.
"English is my second language, I can't find enough," Anze Kopitar told NHL.com when asked if there were enough superlatives to describe Brown's outing. "I guess that's an OK thing if you are put in the same category as Wayne."
Brown may not have joined Gretzky and become the 10th Kings player with a playoff hat trick, but he does have three goals in the first two games of this first-round series, giving his team a chance to take a 3-0 stranglehold when the series shifts to Los Angeles for Game 3 on Sunday night (10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).
Trevor Lewis scored shortly after another power play ended late in the final period, and Jonathan Quick made 46 saves for the Kings, who are up 2-0 in a best-of-seven series for the first time since winning the first two playoff games in franchise history against the Minnesota North Stars 44 years ago.
"It's important for us to understand where we're at and hit the reset button," Brown said.
The Canucks are saying the same thing, especially about their power play.
After relying heavily on the man advantage to get within a win of the Stanley Cup last season, it may get them knocked out in the first round this year. In addition to going 0-for-10 and failing to generate few chances the first two games, Vancouver's power play is now giving up goals. And the Kings have scored three with their man advantage, and another just after one ended.
"Five-on-five we played well," captain Henrik Sedin said. "The power play is not good enough right now. Not only are we not scoring, but we're giving up goals. That can't happen. That's why we lose the game."
Samuel Pahlsson scored with 3:38 left and Luongo finished with 23 saves for the Canucks, who lost the first two games of a series at home for the first time and look little like a team coming off back-to-back regular-season championships.
"It's important to turn the page and make sure we focus on one thing and one thing only and that's the next game," Luongo said. "There's no point in looking at the big picture right now. We've got to focus on going there and win a game."
It could be hard with their power play mired in a slump that has lasted half the season. Vancouver's power play ranked first last season before sputtering out in the Cup Final against Boston. This season, the slump started earlier -- the Canucks were first on the power play in early January but dropped to fourth by season's end after a 16-for-120 funk that continued with an 0-for-5 showing in a 4-2 loss in Game 1.
Still missing leading goal scorer Daniel Sedin because of a March 21 concussion, the Canucks were 0-for-5 again on Friday; they failed to generate anything on their first two chances and gave up the first shorthanded goal after icing the puck with the man advantage.
Defenseman Alexander Edler, called out by his coach the day before after his turnover led to the winning goal late in Game 1, coughed it up again while trying to make a drop pass coming out of his end, sending Kopitar in alone. Luongo got a left pad on Kopitar, who had all kinds of time and space, but kicked the puck out to an open Brown, who rifled it over the fallen goaltender.
"The first one is just Kopi being a world-class player," Brown said.
Hansen tied it quickly, parking himself atop the crease to deflect Henrik Sedin's soft, bouncing shot from just inside the blue line over the blocker of Quick. But the Canucks' power play coughed up another goal five minutes later. This time Dan Hamhuis fell at the blue line and Brown blew by him, outraced two Canucks and beat Luongo with a deke to his backhand.
"Special teams were the difference," Luongo said. "That being said, I've got to try to make a big save there when the game's on the line. It was a tough one tonight."
It was just the 13th time a player has scored two shorthanded goals in a playoff game (Wayne Gretzky is the only one to do it twice). Brown became the first player to get two in a game since John Madden did it for the New Jersey Devils in 2006.
"I think that takes wind out of your opponent's sails," Quick said.
Luongo made a couple of fantastic stops early in the third period, but Stoll extended the lead with the power-play jam and the Canucks came unraveled.
Hansen took the extra penalty – and a 10-minute misconduct – after a wild melee that started with Brown hammering Sedin over Quick and ended with Alexandre Burrows punching the Kings goalie.
"I was just trying to prevent it from turning into a bigger scrum, and then it turns into two scrums," Quick said. "Ultimately you'd rather not [get punched as the goalie] but you wear a lot of equipment and those don't hurt."
Brown also snapped on Sedin as they were lying in the net.
"He had his blade in my midsection and pushed off," Brown said. "He didn't kick me, but open blade in my gut and I was just trying to get up and he pushed off. It just kind of flipped the lid for me."
It was the only time the Kings' lost their composure -- and that's another reason why they lead the series.