The Canucks (41-26-4) took a four-point lead on the Kings (34-23-14) in the Pacific Division with their first win against Los Angeles this season and second in the past two seasons (2-6-1).
"It’s obviously a team we can end up running into, and [it’s meaningful] having it in the back of your mind that they are beatable, because they haven’t been up until today," Canucks forward Jannik Hansen said. "It’s always a nice thing. But again, every game is a new game.
"You can’t afford to let any points slip away, and this is a four-point game as well, so [this was] one of the bigger ones."
The Kings trail the Calgary Flames by two points for third place in the division with a game in hand after Calgary's 3-2 overtime loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday. Los Angeles is two points out of the second wild card into the playoffs from the Western Conference.
Vancouver took advantage of two penalties by the Kings in the third period to take a 2-1 lead on Vrbata’s 5-on-3 goal. Vrbata scored on a snap shot from along the goal line for his 27th goal. Drew Doughty took an offensive-zone slashing penalty, and Tyler Toffoli received a five-minute boarding major and game misconduct for his hit on Alexandre Burrows to give Vancouver the two-man advantage.
"It [stinks]," Toffoli said. "You wish it didn’t happen. I wish that we won the game. I feel like it’s on my shoulders right now, and it’s not a good feeling."
Burrows was on the ice before he was helped to the dressing room; he later returned to the bench. The play epitomized the bad blood that had been brewing all game with several post-whistle scrums, notably when Canucks forward Henrik Sedin ran into Kings goalie Jonathan Quick and Lack nearly joined the fray.
"I’m not sure what [Toffoli] was thinking, but I know you can definitely frustrate a physical team like that when you give it right back to them," Canucks forward Nick Bonino said. "Those are the type of games you need to win in the playoffs, especially against the Kings, who are a team you’ll probably see if you’re going to get to the Cup. We had our battle level today, and it was a good win."
Los Angeles, which outscored Vancouver 12-3 in three previous games this season, has been held to one or no goals in six of its past seven home games. The Kings begin a five-game road trip Monday against the New Jersey Devils.
"The bottom line is that you can’t win with one goal," Kings forward Marian Gaborik said. "We had a lot of chances to put the game away but we just didn’t capitalize. We need to work on this. Gong on the road, we need to score more goals -- that’s the bottom line -- without sacrificing our defense. We need to play the right way."
Bonino tied it 1-1 with a one-bounce tap-in of Vrbata’s lob pass from the half wall at 14:54 of the second period. Bonino beat Doughty to the net and chipped the puck high past Quick.
"I tell you what," Bonino said. "I don’t know how many of those this year have hit the post or gone over. For it to go in like that, it felt surreal at first. It felt good. It was just a good play by [Kevin Bieksa] to get it up to him and [Vrbata] to lay it in there."
Gaborik scored his 22nd goal on the power play 24 seconds into the second. His wrist shot from the top of the left circle beat Lack, who might have been screened by Canucks defenseman Alexander Edler.
Kings defenseman Alec Martinez did not play. He was activated from injured reserve Friday and has missed 19 games because of concussion symptoms.