Jarret Stoll of the Los Angeles Kings celebrates his overtime goal against Vancouver Canucks goalie Cory Schneider and Sami Salo in Game 5 of their NHL Western Conference quarter-final series Sunday at Rogers Arena. The Kings eliminated the Canucks four games to one with their 2-1 victory.
Photograph by: Mark van Manen, PNG
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VANCOUVER — Darryl Sutter had been waiting four months for Jarret Stoll to score that big goal. The L.A. Kings head coach said as much in his post-game press conference following Sunday’s 2-1 overtime win that eliminated the Vancouver Canucks from the playoffs.
Stoll scored his biggest goal of the season at 4:27 of the overtime period, rushing in down the left wing and letting go of a snap shot from his off-wing that beat Vancouver Canucks goalie Cory Schneider over the right shoulder. And just like, the Presidents’ Trophy winners were done, in the first round.
“For sure, it helps your confidence any time you score a goal in overtime in the playoffs,” said Stoll.
“It probably heightens it a little bit. Either way, you help your team win, or you try to help your team win. If it’s not by scoring goals, it’s by winning faceoffs, or playing well defensively, or killing penalties. I feel I do a lot of things and scoring a goal definitely adds to your confidence with the puck.”
To say the 2011-12 regular season was a struggle for Stoll is an understatement. File it under downright forgettable. He scored just six times in the regular season — he played 78 of the 82 games — and had just 21 points.
Then the playoffs began, and all that was in the recent past was subsequently forgotten about. He played an important 17:12 of ice time in Game 5, including both power play and penalty kill situations. Faceoffs? He won 10 of 16 in that category.
He now has two goals in five playoff games, with more promised in the near future for L.A.
More importantly, who knows what would have transpired had he not scored the winner? Perhaps the Canucks win — they had chances in the extra frame, including an unsuccessful Mason Raymond wrap-around — and the series goes back to L.A. for Game 6, and potentially back to Vancouver for a seventh and deciding showdown at Rogers Arena.
The Kings, who went up 3-0 in the series, won all three games in Vancouver. All this after most hockey experts predicted the Canucks would eventually meet in the Stanley Cup finals against Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins. Both of those teams are now done.
The Kings, it was first believed, just didn’t have the offence to compete with the Canucks, and eventually L.A. goalie Jonathan Quick would let just enough pucks past him to lose the series.
Quick outlasted both Schneider and Luongo, who started Games 1 and 2 but gave way his backup for the remainder of the series. Quick was better than both Canucks ’keepers when he needed to be, allowing five goals in the first three games, which included a 41-save shutout in Game 3.
“We competed hard, no matter what the situation was,” said Quick, who made 26 stops Sunday.
“Even in Game 4 there, I think we outplayed them and [Schneider] kept them in it for another game. I think our compete level was just what the difference was.”
For the Kings, who underwent a coaching change in December when Sutter replaced Terry Murray, the fourth win was vindication.
“It’s huge. I’ve been here for eight, nine years and this is a pretty good feeling for a lot of guys in here, especially the guys that have been here for extended amounts of time,” said Kings captain Dustin Brown.
“I’ve said this for the last couple of years…we’re definitely designed better for playoff hockey.”
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