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Kings use balanced attack to steamroll Canucks

by Curtis Zupke

LOS ANGELES -- The loss of another defenseman couldn't stop the Los Angeles Kings. Not when they have Drew Doughty, Alec Martinez and waves of puck-hounding forwards.

Martinez had a career-high three assists and the Kings got goals from Marian Gaborik, Jake Muzzin, Anze Kopitar, Tyler Toffoli and Jeff Carter in a 5-1 win against the Vancouver Canucks at Staples Center on Saturday.

Los Angeles had five available defensemen because Robyn Regehr has an unspecified injury and Slava Voynov remains suspended. But the Kings held the Canucks to 10 shots through the first 36 minutes in a terrific puck-possession performance that rendered Vancouver inert.

"I think it was a good team win," Martinez said. "Throughout the year, you're going to face adversity, whether it'd be injury or in this instance cap space. I've never come across anything like this before, but it's the hand you're dealt, and I think we did a good job with it."

Martinez played a season-high 25:30. Doughty played 29:46, including 3:59 shorthanded. Gaborik and Muzzin scored their first goals this season. It couldn't have worked out much better considering the 13-forward, five-defensemen lineup.

"I think our five-man unit did a good job," Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. "When you have only five defensemen in the lineup for us, it's more about us trying to break out of our zone, so you don't use up too much energy in your own zone."

The Canucks had scored eight goals in their previous two games and won six of seven but hit a resounding thud in what was a successful trip that concludes Sunday at the Anaheim Ducks. Right wings Radim Vrbata and Derek Dorsett played one shift in the third and coach Willie Desjardins alluded to shaking up the roster. Goalie Ryan Miller, who was 5-1-1 lifetime against the Kings, was pulled for Eddie Lack to start the third period.

At least one Canucks player acknowledged that Miller has masked some of their deficiencies that this game exposed.

"I think everyone knew in San Jose [on Thursday] that he stole the game for us too," left wing Chris Higgins said of the 3-2 victory against the Sharks. "It was kind of a more appropriate score line given the way we've played the last two games. We can't leave him hung out to dry like that. He's been playing great for us. It's up to us to pull the weight too."

Los Angeles killed an early 5-on-3 disadvantage and basically took over the rest of the game.

Kopitar made it 3-0 with a sniper wrist shot that went past Miller's shoulder at 18:11 of the first period. Vancouver got caught in the neutral zone and defenseman Christopher Tanev was impeded by Kings forward Justin Williams when Gaborik nudged the puck to an unguarded Kopitar on the left side.

Muzzin scored on a 50-foot wrist shot through heavy traffic at 14:42 of the first for his first goal this season, after a rush by the Tanner Pearson-Carter-Toffoli line. Gaborik opened the scoring when he stuffed in a rebound at 9:43 of the first. Kopitar chipped the puck out from the half-wall to start the play.

Vancouver, which had allowed more than two goals once in its previous seven games, allowed four in the opening 30 minutes when Toffoli backhanded in his own rebound after a shot by Martinez at 10:00 of the second period.

Miller nearly got the paddle of his stick on the shot but couldn't do much in the first two periods, when the Kings enjoyed a lopsided territorial advantage and a 22-13 shot advantage.

It was the kind of reality check that Miller expounded on thoughtfully.

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