They shoot, they snore: Canucks lose big in Los Angeles (updated)
Dam Hamhuis scores only Vancouver goal
LOS ANGELES – The Vancouver Canucks followed their best game of the season with one of their worst, losing 5-1 to the Los Angeles Kings tonight and falling to .500 on their difficult National Hockey League road trip through the top of the Pacific Division.
The Canucks finish their tour Sunday in Anaheim against the league-leading Ducks, and the score could be even worse for Vancouver if players show the same lack of sharpness and defensive awareness they did tonight.
Eddie Lack will start in goal for the Canucks, who are 1-1-1 on the trip after losing in regulation time for just the third time in 13 games.
Against the Kings, the Canucks made terrible defensive mistakes on some goals and were simply outbattled for pucks on others.
It was a starkly different performance than the Canucks had Thursday, when they defeated the San Jose Sharks 4-2.
But after handling Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski and Patrick Marleau and Logan Couture, the Canucks were beaten by Kings like Tyler Toffoli, Linden Vey, Dwight King and Jordan Nolan. Los Angeles stars Anze Kopitar and Mike Richards were good, too, but it wasn't hard to be against the Canucks.
“As good as we were in San Jose, we weren't there in a lot of different areas,” Canuck coach John Tortorella said. “That's what we talked about in between periods – how we played the right way in San Jose. I don't think we played the right way tonight.”
“I don't know if it was our worst (game) but we made too many mistakes and it seemed like every one of those cost us a goal,” captain Henrik Sedin said. “I don't think we were as strong in the defensive zone as we were in San Jose. Breakdowns are going to happen, but we were way too much on the outside. We gave them too much room in front of the net.”
The Kings led wire-to-wire but the key goal of the game came halfway through the second period.
A minute after Dan Hamhuis capped two good Canucks shifts by blasting a slapshot through Daniel Sedin's screen to cut Los Angeles' lead to 2-1, Vancouver gave up a lousy goal that restored the Kings' momentum and two-goal advantage.
Kevin Bieksa turned over the puck behind his net, blindly reversing it back into traffic, and from the top of the crease Richards converted Kings' pass at 10:00.
“It was a big one,” Tortorella said. “Really, we should be out of our end zone. We reversed the puck when we shouldn't reverse the puck. We don't get a stick on the puck when we can. It gets out front and it's in the back of our net.”
The Canucks didn't give themselves a chance.
More weak work by the Canucks along the boards – and poor defensive plays by Ryan Kesler, Jason Garrison and Danny Sedin – allowed Justin Williams to make it 4-1 at 12:46 on another five-footer.
Tortorella tried to snap players from their stupor by changing goalies. Roberto Luongo was pulled for the first time in two seasons, but the move did not have the desired effect.
The first scoring chance Lack faced was a 2-on-1, and Toffoli made it 5-1 into a largely open net, dishing the puck to Richards then getting it back as Lack and defenceman Chris Tanev were stranded.
“That was a tough way to start,” Lack said. “It's tough when you change like that and they get a goal right away. It kind of took the momentum away from the switch. You're never going to play every game like we played in San Jose and you never want to lose. But sometimes you (have poor games) and we just have to refocus and come back tomorrow.”
Hamhuis stepped on the puck and fell on the Kings' opening goal, finished beautifully by Nolan at 12:23 of the first period after rookie Vey had sifted through Canuck Brad Richardson on a 3-on-2 rush.
A mystifying backcheck by Daniel, who worked hard to turn a 3-on-2 into 3-on-3 but turned away from both the puck and his check once he arrived at the Canuck net, allowed Toffoli to score from Drew Doughty's pass at 19:09.
“I thought I lifted his stick, but his stick wasn't there,” Sedin explained. “I don't know what happened. That's my bad. I was right there and thought I had him. It was just one of those games. Usually, when you make mistakes, we're right there to cover it up. It cost us tonight.”
It was Toffoli's first NHL goal, and Vey's assist was his first NHL point.
To save his top players for Anaheim, Tortorella gave the Sedins just two shifts in the third period. Chris Higgins logged 2:56, Ryan Kesler 3:11.
“We're going to have to play a lot better than we did tonight,” Hamhuis said before the Canucks travelled up Interstate 5 to Anaheim. “If the trip ended today, I guess it would be an OK road trip. But we could make it a good road trip with a win tomorrow. With a loss tomorrow, it's not a very good road trip.”
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