There’s no other way to describe what transpired Friday night at GM Place when the Canucks beat the Los Angeles Kings 4-2 than to say that it was thrillingly scripted, what with its early buildup, sudden lead changes and exhilarating finish.
Powered by a dominating first period that had the Canucks pummel the Kings in shots 20-3, Vancouver led 2-0 after 20 minutes of play.
This young LA team sported a record of 5-21-6 when giving up the first goal and was 2-15-4 when trailing after the opening period coming into the game, so it was hasta la vista Kings after only the first period.
Or so the Canucks thought.
In the same way Vancouver was supposed to waltz into California earlier this week and pick up an easy pair of wins, the Canucks took their foot off the gas and allowed Alexander Frolov and Anze Kopitar to score back-to-back goals just 26 seconds apart early in the third period to tie the game up and throw everything into disarray.
Suddenly the Kings were back in the game and the thought of a third straight Vancouver loss passed through the minds of Canucks fans everywhere.
To Henrik Sedin
all this meant was it was go time, he was being cued for career goals 100 and 101, which he scored a mere 30 seconds apart and only 1:28 after LA’s double dip.
Hank’s 13th goal of the season, a perfect one-timer off a nice pass from Ryan Kesler
deep in front of the Kings goals, got the ball rolling for the prettiest score seen on home ice in some time.
Daniel hit Henrik with a pass just as he made his way over the LA blueline, from that point on it was as if Hank was auditioning for Stars on Ice.
Fifteen feet into the zone Henrik hit the breaks and spun towards the middle of the ice, he then cut back to his forehand, gathered himself, and ripped a shot past Jonathan Quick.
All this played out with daunting Kings defender Sean O’Donnell guarding Henrik like a hawk, which made the goal that much more impressive.
“I think it was a great goal, what a great play,” gushed Alex Burrows, who scored his 21st goal of the season in the first period – his third goal in three games.
“He was going wide on his backhand and bringing it close to him and then a quick release. It might not have been the best shot, but it was a quick release and those are tough goalies to pick up, especially when there is a d-man right in front. I think it was quick, it was on net and that’s why it went in.”
No explanation was needed for why Hank’s beauty beat Quick, the puck crossing the line was all that mattered, but Henrik said he was lucky that it did.
“It’s just a fluke shot,” said Henrik, who now has five game-winning goals this season and also picked up an assist on the night. “I just turned around and got the puck on net, I don’t know how much he saw of the shot.”
The Canucks have now won eight straight home games dating back to their 4-3 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Feb.3, the game that ended the team’s nine-game winless streak.
Burrows, the hero on that night, is proud of how Vancouver has drastically turned things around on home ice over the last six weeks.
“Right now we feel good playing in front of our fans and playing at home,” he said. “I think we’re playing well with the lead, I think that’s the biggest key. We’ve been getting leads at home and we’ve got to keep it going down this stretch because home ice advantage or home ice games are going to be huge down this stretch.”
Seven of Vancouver’s remaining 15 games are at GM Place, including four of six in April prior to the start of the playoffs.
Canucks coach Alain Vigneault won’t be tickled pink if his team lets two goal leads slip away whether at home or on the road until the schedule is complete, but he was impressed at how Vancouver fought back on this night.
“Obviously we came out the way we wanted to, we came out real strong and forced them to take penalties and found a way to get two by their goaltender,” he said.
“We had to kill six minutes in penalties in the second, so that took a little bit of momentum away, but we still killed the penalties which was a positive sign for our penalty killing.
“In the third we knew they were going to come, they made a push and we pushed back.”
With the win the Canucks push their way back up into fifth place in the Western Conference with 79 points; Columbus upended Chicago earlier in the night to temporarily knock Vancouver into sixth spot, but clearly that didn’t last long.