After starting the year with a pair of losses to the Los Angeles Kings in their first four games, the Canucks responded with an inspired effort Saturday afternoon in Hollywood beating the Kings 3-1; Vancouver has now earned at least two points against every team in the West this season for the third consecutive year and fourth time in five years.
Unlike the previous two Canucks games, dismal outings to say the least, Vancouver was in this contest from puck drop wanting to begin a five-game road trip in style. Despite giving up the game’s first goal, the Canucks answered back midway through the first to even the score and put the Kings on notice: they were in for war.
“We played an emotional series against them last year in the playoffs and they had beaten us twice this year, so we wanted to come out and show them that we’re a team to be reckoned with and we’re not going to be pushed around either,” said Jannik Hansen, who opened the scoring for the Canucks and led the charge with three hits to give him 132 this season.
Following a quiet second period, one that reflected how most expected the first to play out with this being a 1 p.m. (PST) afternoon game, the Canucks, playing as desperate as the playoff-hungry Kings, continued to push. And push. And push.
Daniel Sedin finally broke through for the Canucks cleaning up a loose puck off a Christian Ehrhoff shot midway through the third period; Daniel’s 33rd goal of the season, the eventual game-winner, moved him into a tie with Ryan Kesler for second in the NHL in goals.
The goal was Daniel’s first in six games and his first point in four, Henrik Sedin assisted on the strike as both twins ended their first three-game pointless streaks since February 2010.
It wasn’t a Sedin spectacle, that’ll have to wait until at least Sunday in Anaheim, but it was enough to get the Canucks back to winning ways.
“We’ve had struggles scoring goals lately and we’ve been winning one, losing one, so we wanted to get off to a good start to this road trip and it was a huge goal and huge win for us,” said Daniel, crediting Vancouver’s defence with a productive outing.
“I thought we created a lot and still played decent defensively, that’s been our focus lately. I know we haven’t scored a lot of goals, but we want to play good defensively and I think you need that to go a long way in the playoffs.”
It was an up and down game for both teams on special teams as the Canucks and Kings each finished 0-for-6 on the power play and 6-for-6 on the penalty kill.
Vancouver is no stranger to special teams success and woes as the Canucks have killed off 14 consecutive man advantages over the last four games, but haven’t scored on the power play in 15 attempts going back five games.
Roberto Luongo did much more than stop 21 of 22 shots in leading the Canucks to their first win against the Kings this season, he also joined a very exclusive club.
In recording his 30th win of the season, his sixth consecutive 30-win season, Luongo also picked up the 300th win of his career making him the 25th goaltender in NHL history to do so.
Luongo is now one of four active goaltenders to have hit the 300-win plateau joining Martin Brodeur, Chris Osgood and Nikolai Khabibulin; the Canucks keeper accomplished the feat in just 662 games between 1999 and 2011.
Goaltenders Mike Richter (301), Turk Broda (302), Olie Kolzig (303) and Billy Smith (305) are now in Luongo’s sights with 16 games remaining this season.
Brodeur sits first all-time in career wins with 618, followed by Patrick Roy (551) and Ed Belfour (484).
The Canucks have now gone back and forth between wins and losses for 12 consecutive games; if this contest felt like a home game for the Vancouver, it’s because of the massive support from Canucks fans who made the trek - here’s Manny Malhotra’s reaction to all the cheers: “I haven’t seen that much opposition support in LA for a long time. It’s definitely good to see, it’s always fun to play in front of Canucks fans.”