-- For the Los Angeles Kings
, the taste of defeat was especially bitter because it came on the heels of a good effort.
After getting blown out 7-2 in Game 5, the Kings did a lot of the little things right in Game 6. They outshot the Vancouver Canucks
, 32-22. They went directly to the net for most of the night. They remained composed and took no dumb penalties. Most importantly, they battled as hard as they could and showed the will to win.
In the end, a trio of elite forwards trumped whatever the Kings threw at them.
"(The) Sedin line played great," a dejected Ryan Smyth
said. "They were the difference tonight and throughout the series. Give them credit for that."
"The Sedin line was tremendous," Kings coach Terry Murray
said. "They won the series. They won the game, and they made the difference. That's what the best players are supposed to do."
Samuelsson finished with seven goals and four assists, while the Sedins combined for five goals and 13 assists, including Daniel's game-winner Sunday.
As the Kings sat dejectedly in their locker room after their elimination at the hands of the Canucks, one key moment stood out as the turning point of the series.
Leading 3-2 in the third period of Game 4, Roberto Luongo
stopped Dustin Brown
on a 2-on-1 opportunity, then shut the door on Alexander Frolov
's breakaway attempt. The Canucks rallied behind the pair of big saves and scored four goals in the third period to even the series at two wins apiece.
Sunday night in Game 6, the Kings led going into the third period. Again, they couldn't batten down the hatches and were stung by Daniel Sedin
's fourth goal.
"That Game 4 in this building was probably the turning point," Anze Kopitar
said. "If you go up with a 3-1 lead to Vancouver, maybe things are a bit different. But you've got to learn from it. It's going to make us stronger."
"We had an opportunity in Game 4," Murray said. "We had a 2-on-1, a breakaway, and (Luongo) makes the save whenever he has to make the save. That made the difference in the outcome of that game and probably made a difference in the series here. We could have come out of that one (Game 4) with a 3-1 lead. He came up with big saves here tonight."
Another turning point came with the Kings leading 1-0 in the second period Sunday. Luongo made the save of the game, robbing Smyth while lying on his back and flailing a glove hand in desperation. The glove hand was the only thing that stood between Smyth and the entire top half of the net. Steve Bernier
knotted the score moments later.
"I don't think Vancouver's seen his best yet," Murray said of Luongo. "I like who he is and what he does."
As for his own goaltender, Murray says that Jonathan Quick
will benefit from the lessons the club learned in the postseason more than most.
"(Quick) was alert, solid, he was square," Murray said emphatically about his goalie, who set a club record with 39 regular season wins. Sunday night, Quick's effort was above reproach.
"He was on the puck and (had) an aggressive attitude," Murray said. "I liked that in him. Overall, his game was very good. This is his first year in the NHL. This is a young guy who's going to take a whole lot -- more than maybe anyone else in our locker room -- away from this series."
Smyth said that he's "not at all" ready for the playoffs to end. But knowing that his club couldn't come up with a turning point of its own is the price of an education.
"That's a tough series to swallow," Smyth said, shaking his head. "We learned a lot. We had our chances through the series to win. They made it tough, battled back from behind to win."
While he's happy that his young club now has playoff experience and a bright future, Murray said one of the toughest lessons is learning how to seize the day.
"(There are) no guarantees in the future," Murray said. "When you get to the playoffs, you want to take advantage of that opportunity, right now. Because you almost need 100 points to get into the playoffs in this Western Conference this year. So, it is going to be harder in the future. You see young clubs that are out there and continue to push."
The Kings depart with the satisfaction of knowing that they tied a team record with 46 regular season wins, including a club record 24 road wins. A nine-game winning streak set a new record, as did a seven-game road win streak.
"The giant has been awakened here in L.A.," Murray said. "The fans were tremendous. We're encouraged and it's part of (the team's) continued development. (It's) great to see sellouts, great to see the energy."