LOS ANGELES – Dustin Brown leveled his captain counterpart and dealt a serious blow to the Vancouver Canucks.
Brown scored his fourth goal of the series in the third period and Jonathan Quick made 41 saves for his second career playoff shutout as the Los Angeles Kings defeated Vancouver, 1-0, in Game 3 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals on Sunday night at Staples Center.
With the win, L.A. has a commanding 3-0 series lead. It is trying to become the ninth No.8 seed to upset a No.1 seed since the NHL went to its current playoff format in 1993. Game 4 is in Los Angeles on Wednesday.
No Kings player brought up in the organization has advanced past the second round, and Brown is captain of that young core on the verge of only the franchise’s second series win since its Stanley Cup Final run with Wayne Gretzky in 1993.
"It would be huge," Brown said. "This team's been trying to put pieces together for the past five or six years. It's been a long road, and I think it's really just starting for this team.
"Going into the series, does this group believe we could have beat them? Definitely. We never thought we were going be up, 3-0, in this series against a team that's pretty well dominated this League for the last two years. In saying that, it's three games. It takes four to win."
The Kings knew they needed to be better in 5-on-5 play, and Brown's goal came during even strength after the Kings forced Vancouver to ice the puck.
Brown hammered home Justin Williams' rebound from the left side on L.A.'s 17th shot of the game at 6:30 of the third. Cory Schneider left the rebound after Anze Kopitar fed Williams for a quick shot.
Vancouver outplayed the Kings for most of the game until L.A. finally generated pressure on Schneider, who started in place of Roberto Luongo and saw little action through 40 minutes. The Canucks went 0-for-4 on the power play and are 0-for-14 in the series.
Since January, the Canucks have converted on just 16 of their last 134 chances (11.9 percent).
"Obviously, this is a result-driven business and we didn't finish on the power play and we didn't finish 5-on-5," Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said. "We had many opportunities. We didn't get it done."
Vancouver lost despite outshooting the Kings, 41-20. Vancouver has outshot L.A., 89-46, over Games 3 and 4. Schneider stopped 19 shots, but Quick again was L.A.'s backbone.
Schneider knows firsthand. He played against Quick in prep school and in college on the East Coast. It was their first matchup against each other in the NHL.
How do you beat Quick?
"Rebounds, get him moving laterally," Schneider said. "He's so good at covering the bottom of the net and his legs are so quick and he really sees the ice well that you have to get him down and out and try to get it upstairs on him.
"We did a good job in the first couple of games trying to get second chances, rebounds, tips. But right now, they're doing a wonderful job boxing out and he's seeing it and he's stopping it. Maybe we have to make his life harder. Just rattle his cage a little bit – make him a little uncomfortable and try to throw him off his game. But right now, he looks real sharp."
Brown leveled Vancouver captain Henrik Sedin with a late shoulder-to-shoulder hit near Vancouver's bench early in the second period that forced Sedin to the dressing room for about six minutes of game time.
Sedin and Vancouver didn't have much issue with the hit, other than the lateness.
"Clean hit," Sedin said.
Vigneault thought his captain put himself in a poor position. The Canucks' coach is more concerned with his team's position of staying alive, but he knew what his team was facing.
"I said coming into these playoffs that any one of the eight teams that would get into the playoffs in the Western Conference had a chance at the Cup," Vigneault said. "That's how good I thought our conference was. They've been hard-fought games that could have gone either way [and] haven't gone either way. Give them credit. They're up and we're in that tough position right now."
Vancouver spent the last half of the second period in L.A.'s end but got nothing to show for it. Quick stopped Christopher Tanev to help kill three power plays and the Kings gave themselves a chance despite generating no offense with nearly nine minutes of power-play time.
Hostilities -- and the ensuing penalties -- highlighted the beginning of the second. Brown's hit on Sedin set off retaliation, including a Kevin Bieksa hip check that sent Brown flying in the air.
Bieksa apparently didn't appreciate being asked about the mood of the team.
"What do you think?" he said. "We're down, 3-0. It's not good. Any better questions?
"It was a close game and we played really well defensively – we didn't give them a lot of good chances and we kept their shots down. At the other end, we ran into a hot goaltender. We had a lot of shots on net, we had a lot of traffic, did a lot of good things offensively, and sometimes you run into a hot goaltender."
Schneider didn't see much action in the first period because his teammates carried the play and held L.A. to one shot on goal through the first 12 minutes and five total. The Canucks also killed two power plays while their offense saw Jannik Hansen hit the left post and Alexandre Burrows stopped on a great pad save by Quick.
L.A. snapped a five-game home playoff losing streak. It had not won at Staples since Game 3 of the 2010 quarterfinals, also against Vancouver.