Henrik Sedin of the Vancouver Canucks doesn't look happy after the Los Angeles Kings scored to tie the game during the third period of Game 5 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, on Sunday, April 22, 2012.
Photograph by: Jenelle Schneider, Postmedia News
VANCOUVER — It turns out the Vancouver Canucks were just California dreaming about storming back from a 3-0 series deficit and beating the Los Angeles Kings.
Instead, their Presidents' Trophy-winning season suffered a nightmarish ending as the Kings came from behind to beat Vancouver 2-1 in overtime Sunday night at Rogers Arena and win the best-of-seven Western Conference quarter-final series in five games.
The result left the players stunned. So much had been expected of them this season and they knew right from training camp they would ultimately be judged on their playoff performance.
They failed miserably.
"We are definitely in shock," goalie Cory Schneider said inside a quiet Vancouver dressing room. "The odds were against us to come back, but we felt honestly that if anybody could do it, we could. You have to have that belief, but at the end of the day I think we were just too far behind."
"If you are down 3-0 everything has to go your way," added Vancouver captain Henrik Sedin. "It's a bounce here and there."
The Kings got a goal early in the third period from fourth-line forward Brad Richardson, and third-line centre Jarret Stoll scored the winner 4:27 into overtime to give the Kings their first playoff series win in 11 years.
Stoll's goal came on a 2-on-1 break after Vancouver defenceman Dan Hamhuis lost a puck battle with Kings forward Trevor Lewis and fell to the ice in the neutral zone.
Lewis got the puck to Stoll, who used Dwight King as a decoy and beat Schneider high to the short side from the left circle.
"I just saw Hammer fall down, I don't know what happened to him . . . but Stoll came in and made a perfect shot and that's what you've got to do at that stage of the game," Schneider said. "You've got execute when you get a chance and he made a good shot."
"I was seeing a little bit of room up there, and short-side, maybe that's something that they're not expecting," Stoll said. "I was definitely shooting all the way. Lewie did a great job on the turnover, just forcing their D-man. I was just at the right place at the right time and had a nice little transition 2-on-1.''
Hamhuis was making no excuses for his giveaway.
"The guy made a good play, he back-checked hard and was able to poke the puck off my stick," he said. "It is unfortunate it had to end that way."
In the end, the Canucks just could not manufacture enough goals. They scored only eight of them in the five games and were outscored 10-5 in losing all three of the games played at Rogers Arena.
"Goals were really tough to come by in this series," Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said in something of an understatement. "Nobody envisioned this. We came here on Day 1 with a plan and a lot of hard work ahead of us . . . we wanted to take the steps one at a time, which we did. Unfortunately, this first step, this first series, we weren't good enough."
The Canucks, quite simply, could not solve goalie Jonathan Quick.
"He didn't make any mistakes," Schneider said of his former Boston-area high school rival. "Usually you make one or two (mistakes) you'd like to have back, but it seemed like he didn't miss on a single puck the whole series and made us work extremely hard."
Richardson tied the game at 3:21 of the third, when he finished off some nice work by Drew Doughty. The Kings defenceman went wide around Vancouver defenceman Keith Ballard before throwing the puck in front.
Richardson beat both defenceman Alex Edler and centre Henrik Sedin to the puck and flipped it past Schneider.
The Canucks power play, seemingly rejuvenated by the return of Daniel Sedin in Game 4, got a goal at 14:04 of the first period to give the Canucks a 1-0 lead.
Henrik Sedin got it, converting a back-door pass from Daniel, after Hamhuis had kept the puck in at the left point.
The Kings had a chance to tie the game just before the buzzer sounded to end the first period when David Booth and Kevin Bieksa got crossed up just inside the Los Angeles blue line.
Anze Kopitar pounced on a loose puck and had a clear breakaway on Schneider.
Schneider came out well above his crease to challenge Kopitar and stopped his wrist shot about a second before the buzzer sounded.
The second period was scoreless, mainly due to some sharp goaltending by Schneider and Quick. They each faced 10 shots in the second.
Quick made his best saves later in the period. He stopped Jannik Hansen on a 3-on-1 rush at the 12:50 mark and then got his right pad on a Daniel Sedin shot when the Canuck winger was sent in alone on a breakaway with just over two minutes left in the period.
"Even when we were up 1-0 they stuck to the game plan," Henrik said of the Kings. "That is what they have done all series long. They haven't given us one inch out there. That is the way you need to play and this is what made us successful last year, we stuck to our system even if we were down a goal and I don't think we did that enough this year.
"I still think in the second period, Danny had two (chances) where if those go in the game is over. That is the way it is, you have to score on those and Quick came up big for them."
Henrik felt the series was lost when Vancouver dropped the two opening games on home ice.
"I thought we gave them the first two games in the series and that's what cost us," he said.
But the Canucks also gave credit to the Kings, who didn't look like a No. 8 seed.
"There is definitely a lot of parity in the Western Conference," Bieska said. "They didn't play like an 8-seed. They had a good end to the regular season. They are a good team, so give them credit. (Dustin) Brown had a good series for them, Quick had a good series, Willie (Mitchell) played well for them. They have some good players."
Added Vigneault: "We are all very disappointed in how things turned out. We're just going to take a step back and figure things out."
They now have the rest of the spring and all of the summer to do just that.
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