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Canucks hold off Kings for 3-2 win

by Curtis Zupke
LOS ANGELES – Special teams continue to carry the Vancouver Canucks.

Sami Salo and Andrew Ebbett scored power-play goals and Vancouver killed five of six penalties for a 3-2 victory against the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday night at Staples Center.

Vancouver has gone 12 for 32 on the power play and killed 24 of 26 penalties over the past six games.

The former looked particularly effective Tuesday.

"It's been good. It's been clicking," said Aaron Rome, who added an even-strength goal. "We've talked about making the other teams pay when they take penalties, so it's been huge."

Henrik Sedin offered up one reason why the Canucks have fared exceptionally well on the power play.

"We're moving the puck, we're moving our feet," Sedin said. "Hammer (Dan Hamhuis) has come in and playing really well at the point. The way he moves the puck and the way he skates with the puck is hard to defend."

Vancouver moved to 3-2 on a six-game road trip that ends Friday at Anaheim. The Canucks had a few days off in Southern California, and the rest was a welcome one for a club plagued by its share of injuries.

"I think we may be getting over that hump," Rome said. "It's little different than the start of the year. We're gelling as a team. We have a few new players and guys are starting to know each other better."

Goalie Roberto Luongo helped the Canucks weather two Kings power plays in the third period and frequently triggered chants of "Luuuuu!" from the healthy throng of Vancouver fans in attendance.

Luongo survived a strong second period and a lively start to the third by the Kings, who outshot the Canucks, 8-3, in the first 10 minutes of the third and 15-6 over the final 20 minutes.

The Kings have one win in their past seven games (1-4-2) but had plenty of chances in five-on-five play, where Vancouver is ranked 23rd in the League in goals allowed/goals against ratio.

Los Angeles pulled to 3-2 on Mike Richards' tip of Anze Kopitar's shot with the extra attacker with 1:10 to go but it was too little, too late after being buried by a 3-0 deficit in the first period.

"It's very hard to dig out of a hole like that against that kind of team," Kings coach Terry Murray said. "They're too good. They were a Presidents Trophy winner for a reason."

L.A. got its fifth power play midway through the third on Keith Ballard's hooking penalty but got only one shot on goal that was swallowed by Luongo. It also couldn't convert on Rome's tripping penalty late in the game.

L.A. had ample opportunity with three power plays in the second period but converted only on Drew Doughty's one-timer to the upper right corner to bring it to 3-1 going into the third.

That came after a dominating first period that saw Vancouver score three times, capped by a sustained puck-possession sequence in the Kings' zone that culminated with Rome's one-timer at 15:42.

It was Rome's second goal in as many games this season after he missed the beginning of the season with an injury.

"I changed sticks," Rome joked. "I'll give the sticks credit."

The Canucks had exactly seven minutes' worth of power play time and outshot the Kings, 12-3, in the opening period.

Vancouver went on the power play just 3:03 into the game on Trevor Lewis's five-minute major for elbowing Kevin Bieksa, who left the ice bleeding and didn't return until the second period.

It became a two-man advantage with Doughty's cross check of Ryan Kesler in the crease, and Salo ripped a slap shot from the right side to open the scoring.

Still on the power play, the Canucks made it 2-0 when Andrew Ebbett's centering pass went in off Willie Mitchell's skate.

"I'll definitely take it," Ebbett said. "It's a chance to get an opportunity on the PP and I got a lucky bounce.  I was looking for (David) Booth in the crease and got it off their guy's skate. I'll take it."

Murray wasn't so cheery.

Asked about his team's recent struggles killing two-man advantages, he bristled, "Have you guys looked at the replay? Do that."

Salo returned to Vancouver's lineup after he missed three games with a groin injury.

Colin Fraser made his Kings debut. He was activated Thursday, a day after Scott Parse went on injured reserve. Fraser played 6:34 minutes of ice time and took an interference penalty in the first period.
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