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Canucks rally for series-tying win over Kings

by Dave Lozo
LOS ANGELES -- Vancouver Canucks coach Alain Vigneault didn't call out any of his players individually going into Game 4, but he said he needed his best players to start playing like his best players -- or their Western Conference Quarterfinal series with the Los Angeles Kings wasn't going to last much longer.

It looks like the message got through.


Roberto Luongo made a pair of key saves in the third period, Daniel Sedin had three assists and Henrik Sedin scored the game-winner with 2:52 remaining to lift the Canucks to a come-from-behind 6-4 victory that evened this best-of-7 series at 2-2.

The Sedins did all of their damage during the Canucks' four-goal third period, one they entered trailing 3-2 after the Kings' red-hot power play scored two more goals to give them nine in the series. The Canucks were on the verge of heading home for Game 5 down 3-1 in the series, but their stars made sure they turned this into a best-of-3 affair in which two of the three games will be played at raucous GM Place.

"I've known these guys for quite some time," said Vigneault, who has been behind the bench in Vancouver for four seasons, "and I know how bad they want this. We were a little bit tight in the first period, but our guys played through it. They found a way to get their game to the level that it needs to be to beat such a strong opponent and we were able to tie the series."

"They stepped up," said Mikael Samuelsson, who scored his Stanley Cup Playoff-leading fifth goal 7:29 into the third period on assists from both Sedins. "They carried this team."

Luongo's 22 saves on 26 shots might not look like much in the box score, but he made the big saves when the Canucks needed them.

With the Kings leading 3-2 early in the third period, Luongo gloved a deflection by Kings captain Dustin Brown that caught him sliding the wrong way. Later, he stacked the pads to deny Alexander Frolov on a breakaway.

Those saves kept the game within reach and allowed Samuelsson, who was moved onto the Sedins' line to start the second period, to continue his high level of play during the postseason. He redirected a Daniel Sedin slap pass while standing in the high slot. The puck fluttered over the catching glove of Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick, who made 32 saves in the loss, to tie the score at 3-3.

Sami Salo gave the Canucks a brief 4-3 lead with 7:44 remaining, but Wayne Simmonds responded with his second of the series 1:02 later.

That set the stage for Henrik Sedin, who made no mistake on a 2-on-1 by snapping a quick shot over Quick's blocker to put the Canucks on top for good. Ryan Kesler added an empty-netter to seal it, but it was the Art Ross Trophy winner that put his team on his shoulders and carried them out of Staples Center with a much-needed split.

"I give Vancouver credit. Their best player stepped up at a critical time, made a big play," Kings coach Terry Murray said. "When you have a lead going into the third period, you got to be able to nail that thing down."

Before the Canucks' furious finish, the game was taking the shape of the previous two, in which the Kings' power play has made every bit of the difference.

Kings defenseman Drew Doughty scored his second of the series at 13:26 of the first period after the Canucks took a too many men penalty. Brown took a pass from Frolov at the side of the net and, to show how good things have been going for Los Angeles on the power play, the puck slipped off his stick and right to Doughty. He chipped it on his backhand past Luongo.

Christian Ehrhoff tied it early in the second period as the Canucks scored a power-play goal of their own, but Brown responded two minutes later to put the Kings up 2-1. It made the Kings 6-for-6 on power plays going back to Anze Kopitar's overtime goal in Game 2.

Before Pavol Demitra and Kopitar traded goals to send the Kings to the second intermission 3-2, something amazing happened -- the Canucks killed a penalty.

The feat wasn't lost on Vigneault.

"They scored six in a row, so I got to try something," he said of using the Sedins on the penalty-killing unit. "I think guys were doing cartwheels on the bench when we killed that one.

"Sometimes you go through tough stretches like that, tough to explain. The other team is getting some bounces. Hopefully for us it's going to be the start of something positive as far as killing penalties."

Now it's back to Vancouver for a pivotal Game 5, and Henrik Sedin believes this year's Canucks team is a far different, far more mature team heading into their biggest game of the season.

"I said from Day One, this is a different team. We stuck with it, and that's the biggest thing," he said of the third-period comeback. "I think personally, our line, if this would've been a couple years ago, we would've started cheating, we would've made plays we shouldn't have made. And the game would've been out of hand after 40 minutes. But you have to stick with it.

"A win is always big in the playoffs. It doesn't matter when it happens. If you look at all the series, all the games, a goal here and there is going to change the momentum in every series. Now we have it, and we have to keep holding onto it."

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter at: @DLozoNHL

Shift of the game: Henrik Sedin won the scoring title because of his passing skills, but he won Game 4 for Vancouver because of his willingness to shoot. With the score even at 4-4 and the clock ticking down below 3:00 left in regulation, Daniel Sedin broke up a play in the Vancouver zone and sent his twin brother racing up ice. They played give-and-go before Henrik took a pass just over the Kings' blue line, shifted from backhand to forehand, and worked his way deep into the right side of the slot before ripping a shot past the glove of Jonathan Quick -- who may have thought he was going to pass -- to give the Canucks the lead for good.

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