Vancouver Canucks on brink of elimination as L.A. Kings prove too Quick in Game 3
Los Angeles netminder stymies Presidents' Trophy-winners while Vancouver backup Cory Schneider good … but not good enough
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LOS ANGELES — They changed goalies, but not the right one to change the series.
Vancouver Canucks coach Alain Vigneault played the last good card available to him Sunday, replacing starting goalie Roberto Luongo with backup Cory Schneider. But the guy in goal for the Los Angeles Kings didn't change and neither did the endangerment of the Canucks' National Hockey League season.
The Canucks' best game was still not good enough to beat Jonathan Quick, who made 41 saves Sunday to drive the Los Angeles Kings to a 1-0 victory and 3-0 lead in their National Hockey League playoff series.
The Canucks, the regular-season pennant-winners who went to the Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final just 10 months ago, face being eliminated in the first round of the tournament for the first time since 2004. Game 4 is Wednesday (7 p.m., CBC, Team 1040).
“We have no lifelines left,” Canucks winger Jannik Hansen said. “We wasted them the first three games. We've gone on winning streaks before this season and we're more than capable of stringing [wins] together.
“We knew Quick was a good goalie. We got a lot of shots on him. We got traffic and had some scrambles, but he always seemed to get his blocker or his glove or his stick on it. We did just about everything right today except score goals.”
And they did. But that last little stickler could end the Canucks' season and cause some upheaval in a big-spending organization that counts on many millions in playoff revenue.
Quick, a Vezina and Hart Trophy candidate who has evidently grown dramatically since the Canucks beat the Kings in the first round two years ago, has allowed only four goals in the series. He has stopped 111 out of 115 shots.
Quick was chiefly responsible for keeping the game scoreless until 6:30 of the third period, when unguarded Dustin Brown swept a rebound past Schneider after Canuck defenceman Alex Edler iced the puck, then lost track of check from the faceoff.
Edler's worst night of his poor playoff ended with a careless delay-of-game penalty late in the third period that forced the Canucks to push for the tying goal short-handed.
Alex Burrows and Ryan Kesler, who hasn't scored a goal in 15 games, had whacks at the puck during a goalmouth scramble in the final minute. But Quick was impenetrable.
Even with the Canucks' territorial superiority Sunday — they outshot the Kings 25-11 in the first two periods — the idea of winning four straight games against Quick is almost unfathomable.
“It's hard,” Canucks captain Henrik Sedin said of the prospect. “But you're an athlete. You're going to realize things like this happen; it's how you respond. We saw Chicago last year — they took one game from us and all of a sudden they had momentum.”
But the Canucks still won that first-round series in overtime of Game 7 after blowing a 3-0 lead. And they did it with leading scorer Daniel Sedin in the lineup, not home with a concussion that has him out indefinitely.
It looked Sunday like Henrik would be gone, too, after he was crushed by Brown on a thunderous hit two minutes into the second period.
With his team about to go offside, Sedin held the puck for a couple of seconds at the blue line and didn't see Brown coming at full throttle back towards the Kings' zone. The check looked legal, but Sedin's head snapped back as he landed.
With Daniel already out from Blackhawk Duncan Keith's illegal elbow four weeks ago, the sight of Henrik struggling to pull himself up and on to the bench — do the haters who call the Sedins soft notice how tough they are? — was an alarming sight for the Canucks.
Defenceman Kevin Bieksa took a roughing minor for going after Brown, but the only fight was a wrestling match between Canuck Alex Burrows and the Kings' Anze Kopitar.
The Canucks' killed the penalty. They killed all six Los Angeles power plays in the first 40 minutes after allowing three goals on 12 chances during the series' opening two games in Vancouver.
Even more heartening, Henrik returned to the bench after a brief visit to the trainers' room.
The Canucks dominated the final minutes of the second period the way they did much of the first.
But Quick was superb throughout. His best saves came seconds apart in the middle period against Chris Tanev, whose slapshot was stopped in traffic a few ticks before the defenceman had a rebound chance in the slot. A minute before Brown scored, Quick got his blocker in front of Jannik Hansen's slapshot on a 3-on-2 rush. Hansen also hit the post on a first-period 2-on-1.
Like Hansen said, the Canucks did everything but score. Or win.
“They got the one that counted,” Bieksa said. “Sometimes you run into a hot goaltender like we did. But it takes [four wins] to win a series. It's not over yet.”
That was not how it seemed Sunday.
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