VANCOUVER – The Los Angeles Kings weren't worried about style points on Monday night.
Their only concern was two points.
The Kings ensured themselves one point when Mike Richards tied the game with 2:54 left in the third period, then added the second when Anze Kopitar scored 48 seconds into overtime for a 3-2 win against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena.
"We just have to scrape and claw for points," Richards said. "It wasn't the prettiest on our part. We took too many penalties, and we turned some pucks over, but two points is what we wanted."
The Kings have points in 10 straight games (7-0-3), but few seemed less likely than the two they earned against the slumping Canucks.
Los Angeles was outshot 39-22, but goalie Ben Scrivens kept it close and Kopitar won it after defenseman Slava Voynov pounced on a Kevin Bieksa turnover behind the Vancouver net. Voynov centered the puck to Kopitar alone in the left slot, and the veteran center quickly fired it up and over Roberto Luongo's shoulder on the far side.
"I was in the middle of the ice, pretty much on top of the crease and I yelled for it just to make sure he saw me," Kopitar said. "And I was able to put just enough on it to put it over his glove."
Just enough was the theme for the Kings.
Henrik Sedin put the Canucks ahead 2-1 on a power play seven minutes into the third period, but they couldn't hold on.
Jeff Carter, back after missing 10 games with a broken foot, got the puck behind the net and fed it to an open Richards atop the crease for a quick shot between Luongo's legs.
"Mike Richards took charge of the game," Kings coach Darryl Sutter said.
The goal came 12 seconds after Scrivens made three great saves on a Canucks rush, kicking out the right pad to rob Jannik Hansen after David Booth took the puck hard to the net on a backhand, then laying down to keep out two Ryan Kesler whacks at the rebound.
Scrivens, who finished with 37 saves, blamed himself for not holding onto the initial rebound, but never doubted a comeback was coming.
"You always have to have that belief that you can come back, whether it's by one or by five," Scrivens said. "That's the reason we play 60 minutes."
It would have been over a lot sooner if not for Scrivens and a penalty kill that kept the Canucks from converting its first seven chances, including a two-man advantage and a pair of 4-on-3s. Scrivens, who came in leading the NHL with a .946 save percentage and 1.37 goals-against average, credited his teammates, singling out defenseman Robyn Regehr for a pair of blocked shots against hard-shooting Vancouver point man Jason Garrison.
"Unsung hero," Scrivens said. "(Regehr) had a couple of huge blocks on Garrison, who can really pump the puck."
While Scrivens was quick to pass the credit, teammates were handing it right back. He is 5-0-2 since Jonathan Quick injured his groin, which is expected to keep the Kings' No. 1 goalie out until Christmas.
"He's making big saves at big times to keep us in," said Richards. "There could be blowouts, but he's making saves to keep us within striking distance and he's given us some time to play our game."
Kyle Clifford opened the scoring for the Kings, who moved six points ahead of fourth-place Vancouver and four ahead of the Phoenix Coyotes in the tight Pacific Division. The Canucks have lost seven of eight games, scoring nine goals in the losses.
"It's a tough, tough conference. It's going to be a dogfight throughout the year," Henrik Sedin said. "We're really sticking together as a group and that's all you can ask for. We should have had two points, but again we're standing here talking about a loss."
For the third time on a season-long six-game homestand that finished with one win (1-2-3), the loss came after the Canucks blew a third-period lead.
"We're playing so well defensively throughout the game and it seems like every time something late is costing us goals," Henrik Sedin said. “It's extremely tough to take."
Blowing the lead after rallying to take it made it even more frustrating.
Defenseman Christopher Tanev scored his first of the season with 2:56 left in the second period to tie the game, and the power play finally connected on its eighth chance when Henrik Sedin one-timed a scramble pass from Daniel Sedin past Scrivens.
"It's a 60-minute game,” said Luongo, who finished with 19 saves. "We did some good things, especially in the second half of that game, but obviously we fell short again."
Despite outshooting their opponent – badly at times – in six of the past seven games, the Canucks have one win, in large part because of untimely breakdowns. Coach John Tortorella pleaded in the morning not to abandon their defensive responsibilities chasing scoring chances, but Vancouver gave up a half-dozen odd-man rushes in the opening period.
The Kings' fourth line opened the scoring on a 2-on-1 break that ended with a tap-in goal for Clifford, who was playing his second game back after missing six with an upper-body injury.
Vancouver had plenty of chances to tie the game on the power play, especially after a big hit by Kings forward Jordan Nolan on Henrik Sedin sparked a run of rough play, post-whistle scrums and a spirited fight between Nolan, who was back after missing four with an undisclosed injury, and defenseman Ryan Stanton. The Canucks were outshooting the Kings 11-1 in the second period when Tanev scored his third career goal in his 118th NHL game.
Despite the loss, Tortorella was positive after the game.
"I thought we took the game over after the hit with Henrik,” he said. "I thought we were acting properly as a team and took the game over, scored on a power play, did all the right things. We didn't finish the game. Need to finish the game. … I'm very excited about some of the things that happened tonight. You may call me crazy, but I am."
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