Canucks re-emerge with 3-1 victory over Kings
LOS ANGELES – Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault didn't have many moves left to play as he watched the Kings jump out to a stunning three games to none lead over his top-seeded Canucks.
One card was already played in Game 3 when he replaced franchise goalie Roberto Luongo with the coveted backup Cory Schneider, which ultimately didn't work but proved Vigneault correct in his decision.
And then star sniper Daniel Sedin made a startling return from his concussion at the hands of Chicago's Duncan Keith for Game 4 on Wednesday night after missing nearly a month of action. For once in this series, the Presidents' Trophy-winning Canucks felt like themselves.
Schneider delivered a terrific 43-save performance and Sedin's presence ignited the Canucks' power play in their 3-1 victory over the Kings to stave off elimination in the Western Conference first-round matchup.
The scene will switch to Vancouver's Rogers Arena for Game 5 on Sunday where the Kings will get a second chance to finish off their first playoff series victory since 2001. Getting the clinching fourth victory proved as tough as they imagined.
"In my past experience, the fourth has always been hardest to get and the toughest game," Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi said. "They're going to throw everything at you, everything that they possibly have.
"If you let them get life off that, they can build that into something more. And that's what we're trying to snuff out."
The Canucks remained alive thanks to Schneider, whose biggest stop of the night came when he foiled Kings captain Dustin Brown's penalty shot attempt at 5:23 of the third period after Brown was taken down on a breakaway while shorthanded.
Brown was looking to tie the score at 2-2 with his fifth goal of the series.
"He's been their most dangerous player and one of the best players in the playoffs," Schneider said. "But I was able to hold off on the shot fake.
"When he opened it up, I thought he might try to get upstairs. Fortunately it hit my stick protecting the five-hole and just got enough of it."
Vancouver still had time on its man advantage and Henrik Sedin would bang in a rebound of a Dan Hamhuis shot past Kings goalie Jonathan Quick. Daniel Sedin got the second assist on the Canucks' second power-play goal of the night.
"I think it was a big boost for their team," Brown said. "I thought we had opportunities after that to get some goals. (Justin) Williams hit the post. It really helped them settle into their game."
The Kings looked as if they were out to close it out in the first period. They dominated the opening 20 minutes, winning virtually every battle for the puck in hemming Vancouver in its own end.
And the work paid off with the game's first goal. Anze Kopitar picked up a pass from Williams in stride and tossed aside Canucks winger Mason Raymond before firing a wrist shot by Schneider to give the Kings a 1-0 lead 13 minutes in.
Schneider stopped the other 12 shots he faced in the first, including bang-bang stops on Jordan Nolan and Brad Richardson right as the period ended. His work allowed his teammates to survive.
With both Sedins now working on their previously dormant power play, the Canucks got to work on the scoreboard. Ryan Kesler won a battle for the puck and then put a perfect screen on Quick, who couldn't find Alexander Edler's low point shot for a 1-1 tie.
Four minutes later, the Canucks got their first lead since the first period of Game 1 as Kevin Bieksa fired in a point shot off the stick of the Kings' Mike Richards.
Contact the writer: firstname.lastname@example.org