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by Staff Writer / Los Angeles Kings
VANCOUVER - In a game that summed up the LA Kings’ season perfectly, the visiting team waltzed into GM Place and put forth a tough, gritty effort, only to come up just short in the end.

The Kings fell to the Vancouver Canucks, 1-0, in their final road game of the 2008-09 season thanks to a 20-save for Roberto Luongo as LA was shutout for the 11th time on the year, a franchise record.

Despite not finding the back of the net, the Kings had all kinds of chances to score. Three minutes into the game Dustin Brown missed an empty cage from in tight and that seemed to set the bar for a flurry of botched scoring chances on the night. LA didn’t have much puck luck on its side either as when Anze Kopitar finally beat Luongo early in the third period with a shot that trickled through the keeper’s pads, the puck didn’t have enough on it to cross the line. It was just that kind of night for the Kings, yet the team still finishes 16-22-3 on the road, their best record away from the City of Angels since 2005-06.

"It was a huge game for both teams, obviously they’re fighting for a division but this was a chance for us to gain that experience, it was a playoff atmosphere out there and we lost the game, 1-0, but I think if we had pushed a little bit harder it would have been a different game," said Dustin Brown, who had just under 14 minutes of ice time during 14 shifts.

"They played a pretty good game, Luongo made some huge saves late in the third that kept them in it, our goalie made some big saves for us so it’s hard to say, both goalies played well, we had our chances to score and we didn’t capitalize."

The stars were aligned for the Kings to tie the game late in the third period when Alex Burrows was called for holding and Jonathan Quick hustled to the bench for the extra attacker, but LA simply couldn’t get pucks on net.

"We had a chance there at the end when it was 6-on-4 and we don’t get one shot, I think they blocked one and we didn’t do anything else with the puck, we needed more shots on goal to score," added Brown.

One of the bright spots for the Kings in this game was the outstanding play of Jonathan Quick - surprise, surprise - as he stopped 27 shots and helped keep LA in the contest for 60 minutes.

He made numerous noteworthy saves, including a few on a streaking Ryan Kesler in close, but passed the praise of his performance on to his defenders who were especially strong on the penalty kill, holding Vancouver to 1-for-5.

"I think the way our penalty kill played really helped me out a lot there, our PK has been great all year and right there again was a strong performance from them."

Despite the loss, Quick’s 18th of the season, the young netminder will finish with more wins than losses in his first NHL campaign, something that obviously looks good on paper, but he said doesn’t mean much without getting a taste of the second season.

"The opportunity presented itself in December there and I tried to make the best of it and I can’t say I’m satisfied with what happened because at the end of the day, you still want to make the playoffs, you still want to be a playoff team no matter what league you’re in and we’re not this year, so we’ve just got to work towards that next year."

The Kings weren’t playing for anything in this game and they still came to play ball forcing the Canucks to eek out the win, something coach Terry Murray is extremely proud of.

"We competed, we battled, I thought we came out right at the start with the right attitude as far as playing a harder game," assessed Murray.

"The last time we came in here they seemed to push us out of the game in the early going, but we hung in there and weathered the storm at the start and played pretty well, I was pleased about that one."

The Kings now head back to LA and prepare for a game Saturday against the San Jose Sharks, a team that has given the Kings all they can handle this season.

LA has yet to pick up a win in five contests with San Jose going 0-3-2, so a home victory to close out the season would be pretty sweet for the Kings, especially if it can help prevent their division rivals from capture the President’s Trophy.

"I think first of all we have to play hard," said Kopitar. "They do have our number, they have a really good game, but we just have to play with a lot of passion and a lot of intensity and just with a lot of grit."

To Quick the solution to sinking the Sharks is clear, "score more goals that they do."

"That’s what it comes down to and they’re a good team so we’re got to stick to our system and play their game and if we play our best I know that we can come out on top in that game."

Compiled by Derek Jory | Special to
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