VANCOUVER -- The sellout crowd at Rogers Arena was already buzzing after Vancouver Canucks captain Henrik Sedin had slipped the puck between the legs of one Los Angeles Kings defender in the third period. Then he did it again to Anze Kopitar.
On a night when the Canucks' top line created two goals, including the go-ahead tally by Daniel Sedin with 4:52 left in the second period, the momentum they generated with long, dominant shifts in the Los Angeles end was just as important to snapping the Kings' five-game winning streak with a 5-2 victory.
"That was our best game in a long time," Henrik Sedin said after also helping set up the opening goal by defenseman Dan Hamhuis. "It felt good. We got the puck down low. We were matched up against Kopitar, which is an offensive line also, so it makes it a little bit easier to generate chances."
The Sedins and Alexandre Burrows, who also had two assists, generated several chances that left the crowd buzzing and lifted their bench, helping snap their first two-game losing streak of the season against the team that knocked them out in the first round of last year's Stanley Cup Playoffs.
"You feed off it," said Mason Raymond, who scored and set up Jannik Hansen's goal with 2:08 left in the second period. "It's huge. It's fun to watch. The crowd gets into it, you can hear the ‘wows,' and as a team and a player you feed off it. Those are the momentum swings we like to use."
Raymond, playing his first game at center in more than a year, created a couple big momentum shifts of his own. With the Kings gaining traction after Justin Williams tied it on a power play 6:12 into the second period, Raymond scored off a rush just over four minutes later.
Playing in the middle with Ryan Kesler out with a fractured foot, Raymond skated onto Hansen's chip pass in the neutral zone, backing up the defense and firing a shot over Jonathan Quick's glove from top of the faceoff circles. His drop-pass assist to Hansen later in the period was also off the rush.
"When you can get the puck with speed, speed kills and that's a huge part of our game as a line when we can use our wheels to our advantage," said Raymond, who finished plus-3 despite losing eight of nine faceoffs.
"It was a good look there, a different look for me. Faceoff circle wasn't the best for me, but give them credit they have some top guys on faceoffs."
Chris Higgins added an empty-net goal with 23 seconds left and Cory Schneider overcame a costly puckhandling gaffe to finish with 28 saves, including several of his best with the Kings pressing in the third period.
"He was the better goaltender on the ice," coach Alain Vigneault said.
Los Angeles coach Darryl Sutter appeared to agree.
The Kings had won seven of eight after a sluggish start to their first season as the defending Stanley Cup champions. Quick was the MVP of the Cup run, but has split the last eight starts with Jonathan Bernier and was beaten four times on the first 16 shots against Vancouver, finishing with 19 saves.
When a reporter said it looked like Quick was fighting the puck, Sutter said, "I agree."
Asked what Quick needed to do, Sutter responded: "Not fight the puck."
A subdued Quick wasn't any easier on himself.
"I just didn't stop the puck," he said. "I just didn't make enough saves for my team to give them a chance to win."
Quick didn't have chance when Hamhuis opened the scoring 3:43 into the game after a long, dominating shift by the Sedins, aided by a Kings' turnover. That left Henrik alone to the goalie's right, and he fed Burrows at the side of the net for a backhand pass through the crease that left Hamhuis, cutting in from the point, with an empty net.
"It's like you are in awe," said new Canuck Tom Sestito, an ice bag on his right hand after a first-period fight with Jordan Nolan. "But it's not the first time I've seen it. I saw it in Columbus. I was out there for two shifts against the Sedins and I was minus-2. Those guys are magic with the puck, it's crazy and a pleasure to watch. You hear a lot of ‘ahhs' and ‘oohs' and it is a lift on the bench."
After Williams and Raymond traded goals, Nolan, who was knocked out of the game briefly after taking a couple of big punches from Sestito, tied it 2-2 when Schneider turned the puck over behind his own net. That left Nolan with an empty net to wrap in his first goal since opening night.
The Canucks retook the lead with two goals before the period ended.
First it was Burrows making a smart play out of his own zone to set up a 2-on-1 for the Sedins. Henrik passed cross-ice to Daniel, who held it for a second as Quick moved left, then beat him over the blocker on the right.
"You got to pay special attention to them," Kopitar said of the Sedins. "They are obviously good players, but it was more about us, what we didn't do."
Hansen doubled the lead with 2:08 left, taking a drop pass from Raymond at and cutting into the middle for a shot over Quick's glove from the high slot.
"He seemed to be struggling a little bit," Henrik said of Quick. "He looked maybe a little bit off, but he's a world-class goaltender and we had him on a night maybe where he wasn't seeing the puck as well."
The Kings kept their winning lineup intact despite having defenseman Alec Martinez ready to return from an upper-body injury. Kevin Bieksa returned to the Canucks' lineup after missing two games with a groin injury, but fellow defenseman Keith Ballard was a surprise healthy scratch.
|Back to top|