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Power play leads Kings past Canucks

by Dave Lozo / NHL.com
LOS ANGELES -- The Kings made their first home Stanley Cup Playoff game at Staples Center in nearly eight years count. They took care of the Vancouver Canucks 5-3 in Game 3 of their Western Conference Quarterfinal series Monday night and took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven.

And just when you thought the Kings' power play couldn't get any better, it delivered a perfect 3-for-3 performance and is now 7-for-12 in the series. Twenty-year-old defenseman Drew Doughty had a goal and three assists and said afterward that this team might not have known what to expect in its first playoff series, but the players now feel they are ready to drop the hammer on Vancouver.

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"It was great to get that win," said Doughty, who had three of his four points on the power play. "We went out there, the fans were unbelievable. I did not think we could match Vancouver, but we did just that. I think we match up really well against Vancouver. Obviously they are a great team, they finished in third place, but I think we kind of came on late.
 
"And if we keep playing the way we did tonight we should win the series."

If the power play keeps clicking like this, the Kings should wrap this up sooner rather than later. Michal Handzus scored two goals with the man advantage, but a great sign were the goals by Ryan Smyth and Brad Richardson that came at even strength.

Handzus, a veteran of 62 playoff games, wasn't quite as excited as Doughty afterward.

"I thought we did a good job most of the night, but obviously not good enough," he said. "Obviously they are going to be better next game, and we have to be better, too. It was not perfect, but we will take a win."

Richardson's goal at 13:21 of the second period put the Kings ahead 4-1 and chased Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo, who allowed four goals on 16 shots. Andrew Raycroft took over, and suddenly the Canucks found their game.

Mikael Samuelsson scored his fourth goal of the series just 1:32 after Luongo departed, and the Canucks went to the second intermission trailing 4-2. That set the stage for a controversial play in the third period that temporarily took the wind out of the Canucks' sails.

Alex Burrows sent the puck to the crease area from behind the net. A hard-driving Daniel Sedin had the puck ricochet off the outside of his right skate and past Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick. It was ruled a goal, but after a lengthy video review, it was waived off after officials in Toronto deemed Sedin had kicked the puck.

It was a kick in the stomach for the Canucks, but Sedin scored a goal that wouldn't be taken off the scoreboard just 72 seconds later. His wrist shot from the blue line eluded Quick and made it a one-goal game with nearly 15 minutes left in regulation.

Still, the reversal of Sedin's first goal left a sour taste in the mouth of Canucks coach Alain Vigneault.

"I think it was a good goal, but at the end of the day it doesn’t matter what I think," he said. "We have to deal with it and get ready for the next game."

Burrows agreed with Vigneault's assessment.

"I was pretty surprised," he said. "I thought for sure it would be a goal, especially when it hits the outside of his skate and he's stopping and he didn't even see the puck coming. Obviously that's the kind of call I think didn't go our way tonight."

Despite all that, the Canucks had a chance to tie the score on the power play less than two minutes later when Handzus was called for interfering with Raycroft. But they failed to capitalize, and Smyth's goal at 9:21 that deflected off Canucks defenseman Christian Ehrhoff extended the lead back to two goals.

The Canucks have a 6-3 scoring edge at even strength in the series, but they know they must find a way to shut down the Kings' power play if they want to stay in this series.

"It's not time for panic for us," Burrows said. "We know we're doing some good things. We have to keep playing with urgency and keep doing some good things. We know we can do a good job. It's just a matter of paying the price a little bit more."

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter at: @DLozoNHL



Shift of the night:
Dustin Brown gave an all-out effort during the final 48 seconds of the first period. After the Kings won a faceoff deep in the Canucks' zone, Brown generated a great scoring chance and threw his body around with reckless abandon. After a big hit against the boards, the Kings captain skated in front with the puck. It deflected to teammate Jarret Stoll, who had his great scoring chance denied by Roberto Luongo. When the puck rebounded into the corner, Brown threw another big hit, this time on defenseman Alexander Edler.

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