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Canucks rout Kings to take 3-2 series lead

by Dave Lozo
VANCOUVER -- The Canucks are one win from their third trip to the second round of the playoffs in four seasons, and they got there with their most convincing victory of this postseason.

Vancouver's top line of Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin and Mikael Samuelsson combined for 3 goals and 4 assists -- including Samuelsson's League-leading sixth and seventh of the playoffs -- and the Canucks blew away the Los Angeles Kings 7-2 on Friday at GM Place to take a 3-2 lead in their Western Conference Quarterfinal series.

Samuelsson is a zone that most players can only dream about. He's scored his seven goals on 22 shots, a shooting percentage that Kobe Bryant is likely to put up on a bad night for the Los Angeles Lakers.


"When pucks go in for you, you see a lot of net. And I see a lot of the net right now," said Samuelsson. "I'm not going to lie. I feel comfortable and I feel comfortable with my shot and the way I play."

Steve Bernier also scored two goals and has three in the series, which shifts back to Los Angeles for Game 6 at Staples Center on Sunday night.

"You want to give it everything you got to make sure you win this game," Bernier said. "Now we did win this game and we need to think about next game."

Pavol Demitra had a goal and two assists and has picked up his play over the last two games. Even defenseman Alexander Edler got in on the scoring with his first of the playoffs. In total, 12 Canucks registered points in what was the first truly lopsided affair of the series.

Game 5 will be one Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick will need to forget quickly. He allowed four goals on 21 shots before being yanked late in the second period. He returned later in the third period after Erik Ersberg allowed two goals on four shots.

Quick's second tour of duty went just as badly as his first. He allowed Bernier's second goal on the second shot he faced in his return to the ice and finished with 21 saves overall.

Afterward, Kings coach Terry Murray said Quick was his starter for Game 6, but Game 5 went just about perfectly for the Canucks.

"I think you could always play better, but we're definitely happy with the way it went," defenseman Kevin Bieksa said. "Power play got us a big goal, 5-on-5 we felt like we were in control. It felt the whole game we dictated it and took it to them."

The Canucks scored six of their goals at even strength, while the Kings mustered only one at 5-on-5. Vancouver has outscored Los Angeles 15-6 at 5-on-5 during the five games.

Perhaps more important is the fact that the Canucks' penalty-killing unit had its best game of the series. It allowed just one goal on five chances, and it was a fluky goal by Michal Handzus on a centering pass that banked off the skate of Canucks defenseman Christian Ehrhoff and past goaltender Roberto Luongo.

"That's huge for our penalty kill to get a little bit of confidence like that," said Bieksa, who was in the penalty box on two of those shorthanded situations. "Just going 2-for-4 on our PK (in Game 4) was a huge confidence booster for our PK. I know it's funny, but that's the way it was. We felt pumped after we killed those two in a row. So tonight, we feel good again.

Demitra was the spark plug on the Canucks' first goal, which came five seconds after an eight-second power play expired. He carried the puck behind Quick's net and fed Kyle Wellwood all alone in front. Wellwood's one-timer went wide on the short side, but the bounce off the backboards came right to Bernier, who gave the Canucks a 1-0 lead 11:10 into the game.

The Kings responded at 14:42 with their 10th power-play goal of the series when Handzus scored, but that's when the Canucks started their offensive assault.

Vancouver retook the lead with 2:28 left in the first period on Edler's goal. He found himself in the left circle and ripped a shot off the near post and into the net to make it 2-1. The Kings' Randy Jones, Anze Kopitar and Wayne Simmonds appeared to have some communication issues on the goal, as no one picked up Edler.

Daniel Sedin pushed the lead to two when he scored off a wraparound midway through the second period. Samuelsson's goal with 6:29 left in the period made it 4-1 and sent Quick to the bench for what appeared to be the remainder of the night. The goal was set up by a symphony of passing between the Sedin twins and Samuelsson, whose blast from just above the right circle beat Quick's catching glove.

Ersberg took over for Quick at that point, although he would not finish the game.

The Kings had a chance to get back in it late in the second period with a 28-second, 5-on-3 power play, but the Canucks' beleaguered penalty killers got the job done. A blast from the point by defenseman Jack Johnson snapped the stick of Canucks winger Alex Burrows, but he eventually cleared the zone by gloving the puck down the ice.

Demitra and Modin traded goals within a span of 24 seconds early in the third period. Demitra's long shot eluded Ersberg on the short side, and Modin's goal came off a net-mouth scramble.

Samuelsson's second of the game on a power play at 6:31 of the third was a beauty of a wrist shot over Ersberg's catching glove. It also ended the night of Ersberg, who returned to the bench in favor of Quick, who allowed Bernier's second of the game just 2:29 after returning.

For the Canucks, it wasn't just a win. It was a message.

"It was a great win," said Luongo, who made 24 saves. "It was important for us to come out tonight and show them that we wanted this and we established a great momentum right off the start and sustained it for 60 minutes."

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter at: @DLozoNHL

Shift of the Night: While killing a 5-on-3 power play for the Kings, Alex Burrows showed just how overrated a stick can be. The Canucks' forward blocked a Jack Johnson shot from the point that broke his stick. Still, Burrows clogged the shooting lane up top, and when the puck found him near the blue line, he went to his belly and gloved it out of the zone. The Canucks killed the 5-on-3 and subsequent 5-on-4 and maintained their 4-1 lead late in the second period. 

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