-- When your penalty-killing is about as effective as a fly swatter against a hail of bullets, you need your goaltending to be at its best.
Unfortunately for the Vancouver Canucks
and Roberto Luongo
, that wasn't the case Monday in Game 3 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals against the Los Angeles Kings
Luongo faced 16 shots and allowed four goals -- three of which came while the Canucks were shorthanded -- and spent the last 26:39 on the bench during a 5-3 loss at Staples Center.
It was hard to fault him on any of the Kings' three power-play goals, but the fourth and final goal Luongo allowed was a bad-angle wrist shot by Brad Richardson
that put the Canucks in a 4-1 hole from which they could not escape.
Richardson corralled the puck near the right corner after a turnover by Canucks defenseman Aaron Rome
. Richardson whipped a shot toward the net, and it looked like he caught the goaltender guessing pass instead of respecting the shot.
"I don't know. It was kind of a messed-up play," Luongo said. "Totally my fault. That's probably the one goal I'd like to have back there."
To make matters worse, Luongo nearly suffered a major injury when Kings winger Ryan Smyth
accidentally stepped on his catching hand. Luongo said it had no effect on Michal Handzus
' second power-power goal, which he scored after Luongo was unable to hold on to a blast from the point by Drew Doughty
"It was a one-timer, I was fighting a screen," Luongo said. "I got a glove on it, and unfortunately it landed on the floor and I didn't have time to cover it because Handzus was right there."
It doesn't help when the Kings power play is clicking at a 7-for-12 rate. Luongo doesn't have the answer to what is ailing the penalty-killing, but he knows something needs to change right away.
"Obviously we're having trouble killing them off right now," Luongo said. "It's something we need to address (at practice Tuesday), make sure we lay it all on the line when we're killing. Everybody knows what we got to do on the ice, it's just a matter of executing."
The biggest problem for Luongo has been the net presence of the Kings. There's constantly someone in his face, and it makes for a nearly impossible situation when offensively-gifted defenseman like Doughty and Jack Johnson
are getting shots to the net.
"Our attitude has been he's their best player and we don't want him to be their best player throughout the series," Kings coach Terry Murray
said. "Most importantly is getting traffic against top goaltenders. If you're playing away from the net, which I thought we're doing in the first game, goaltenders like that make saves every time. And we're getting better at that."
Murray believes Luongo will respond in Game 4. If he doesn't, the Canucks will be facing elimination when they return home for Game 5 on Friday night.
"I know he's going to bounce back," Murray said. "I know Luongo. We traded for him when I was (coaching) in Florida. I know his character. He's going to bounce back with his 'A' game. And we're going to have to be prepared for it."
Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter at: @DLozoNHL