Canucks enhance playoff chances with big win over Kings

 

 
 
 
 
From left, Vancouver Canucks' Alexander Edler, of Sweden; Luca Sbisa, of Italy; Radim Vrbata, of the Czech Republic; Daniel Sedin, of Sweden, and Henrik Sedin, of Sweden, celebrate a goal by Vrbata as Los Angeles Kings' Matt Greene, foreground skates past them during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, March 21, 2015, in Los Angeles. The Canucks won 4-1. (AP Photo/)
 
 

From left, Vancouver Canucks' Alexander Edler, of Sweden; Luca Sbisa, of Italy; Radim Vrbata, of the Czech Republic; Daniel Sedin, of Sweden, and Henrik Sedin, of Sweden, celebrate a goal by Vrbata as Los Angeles Kings' Matt Greene, foreground skates past them during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, March 21, 2015, in Los Angeles. The Canucks won 4-1. (AP Photo/)

Photograph by: Jae C. Hong, Associated Press

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LOS ANGELES -- It is a game the Vancouver Canucks can stick in their memory bank and use come playoff time.

And thanks to Saturday’s huge 4-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings at the Staples Center, there is more than a good chance there will indeed be a playoffs for the Canucks.

Vancouver fell behind 1-0, but battled back to beat the Kings for the first time in four tries this season.

The significance of this win can not be overstated. It was certainly worth more than the two points they picked up in the Pacific Division standings.

The Canucks had lost their three previous meetings with the Kings by a combined scored of 12-3 and had been outshot 96-54. The Kings were in their heads and the Canucks may have exorcised some demons with their impressive performance.

“I thought we played one hell of a game today from start to finish,” said Vancouver winger Jannik Hansen. “We came out with a lot of intensity. . .it’s obviously a team we could run into in the playoffs and having it in the back of your mind that they are beatable -- because they haven’t been up until today -- is always a nice thing.”

“This is huge,” added Vancouver centre Nick Bonino. “With the playoff picture the way it is, we pulled away a little bit from them and I think that is what we need. We need every point we can get, so to beat them is really big.”

The win gives Vancouver, currently second in the Pacific Division, 86 points and a four-point cushion on the Kings. Both teams have 11 games remaining. The Calgary Flames, who lost in overtime to Columbus on Saturday, are just two points back of Vancouver but have played one more game than the Canucks.

Winger Radim Vrbata scored the winner at 4:31 of the third period on a 5-on-3 Vancouver power play. It was his team-leading 27th goal of the season.

The Kings were left short two men when Drew Doughty took a slashing minor and Tyler Toffoli was nailed just over a minute later with a five-minute boarding major and game misconduct for his nasty hit from behind on Alex Burrows four minutes into the third.

The Canucks outshot the Kings 42-26 and also stood up to them physically.

“They are a big, heavy team and they try to finish you every chance they get,” said Vrbata. “But I think we held our own and when there was a chance to hit we hit as well. Overall, it was a good game. We had lots of shots and it’s a big two points for us.”

Marian Gaborik gave the Kings a 1-0 lead 24 seconds into the second period on a power play. With defenceman Dan Hamhuis off serving a roughing penalty, Gaborik’s wrist shot from the top of the left faceoff circle tipped off the stick of Vancouver defenceman Chris Tanev and beat Eddie Lack high glove side.

Lack, who had a tough outing in Thursday night’s 6-2 loss to Columbus, bounced back with a rock solid performance against the Kings.

“I felt like I played awful last game,” Lack said. “I just wanted to bounce back and have a good win.”

The Canucks tied the game at 14:54 of the second when centre Nick Bonino drove hard to the net and beat Kings Doughty to a flip pass from Vrbata. Bonino chipped the puck high over the glove of Los Angles goalie Jonathan Quick. The goal was Bonino’s 13th of the season.

“I’ll tell you what, I don’t know how many of those this year have hit the post or gone over the net,” Bonino said. “For it to go in like that felt good.”

A couple minutes after Bonino’s goal, Quick was run over by Canuck captain Henrik Sedin, who was chasing a rebound. A scrum ensued, with Quick right in the middle of it. Lack skated toward centre ice, perhaps wanting to even out the numbers, but was waved back by the officials.

“I would have a reach advantage, but I think he’s a little meaner than me,” a smiling Lack said of Quick.

The teams played an entertaining, but scoreless first period. Both teams had quality chances.

Dwight King hit the post on a shorthanded breakaway and a short time later Lack robbed Jeff Carter from the slot.

Alex Edler managed to put a puck past Quick, but defenceman Matt Green swept it away just before it crossed the goal line.

A goal by Carter at the 1:18 mark of the first was disallowed when it was ruled he had put the puck past Lack with a high stick.

Daniel Sedin and Bo Horvat added empty-net goals in the final minute to ice the game for Vancouver.

ICE CHIPS: The Canucks and Kings meet once more this season on April 6 in Vancouver. . .The Canucks chartered to Phoenix after the game. They meet the Arizona Coyotes in a 5 p.m. start on Sunday. . .Their next home game is Tuesday night against the Winnipeg Jets. . .Anze Kopitar’s assist on Gaborik’s goal was his 600th NHL point.

bziemer@vancouversun.com; twitter.com/bradziemer

 
 
 
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From left, Vancouver Canucks' Alexander Edler, of Sweden; Luca Sbisa, of Italy; Radim Vrbata, of the Czech Republic; Daniel Sedin, of Sweden, and Henrik Sedin, of Sweden, celebrate a goal by Vrbata as Los Angeles Kings' Matt Greene, foreground skates past them during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, March 21, 2015, in Los Angeles. The Canucks won 4-1. (AP Photo/)
 

From left, Vancouver Canucks' Alexander Edler, of Sweden; Luca Sbisa, of Italy; Radim Vrbata, of the Czech Republic; Daniel Sedin, of Sweden, and Henrik Sedin, of Sweden, celebrate a goal by Vrbata as Los Angeles Kings' Matt Greene, foreground skates past them during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, March 21, 2015, in Los Angeles. The Canucks won 4-1. (AP Photo/)

Photograph by: Jae C. Hong, Associated Press

 
From left, Vancouver Canucks' Alexander Edler, of Sweden; Luca Sbisa, of Italy; Radim Vrbata, of the Czech Republic; Daniel Sedin, of Sweden, and Henrik Sedin, of Sweden, celebrate a goal by Vrbata as Los Angeles Kings' Matt Greene, foreground skates past them during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, March 21, 2015, in Los Angeles. The Canucks won 4-1. (AP Photo/)
From left, Vancouver Canucks’ Alexander Edler, of Sweden; Luca Sbisa, of Italy; Radim Vrbata, of the Czech Republic; Daniel Sedin, of Sweden, and Henrik Sedin, of Sweden, celebrate a goal by Vrbata as Los Angeles Kings’ Matt Greene, foreground skates past them during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, March 21, 2015, in Los Angeles. The Canucks won 4-1.
Los Angeles Kings’ Jake Muzzin, right, hits the puck against Vancouver Canucks’ Ronalds Kenins, of Latvia, during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, March 21, 2015, in Los Angeles.
Los Angeles Kings’ Drew Doughty, top, shoves Vancouver Canucks’ Alex Burrows in front of Kings goalie Jonathan Quick during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, March 21, 2015, in Los Angeles.
Los Angeles Kings’ Anze Kopitar, left, of Slovenia, and Vancouver Canucks’ Chris Tanev fight for the puck during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, March 21, 2015, in Los Angeles.
Vancouver Canucks’ Chris Higgins, bottom, is pinned by Los Angeles Kings’ Jake Muzzin during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, March 21, 2015, in Los Angeles.
Vancouver Canucks’ Luca Sbisa, front, of Italy, moves the puck against Los Angeles Kings’ Anze Kopitar, of Slovenia, during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, March 21, 2015, in Los Angeles.
Los Angeles Kings’ Jake Muzzin, left, is hit by a stick from Vancouver Canucks’ Jannik Hansen, of Denmark, during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, March 21, 2015, in Los Angeles. The Canucks won 4-1.
Los Angeles Kings’ Matt Greene, second from left, moves the puck away from the net as goalie Jonathan Quick, center, watches during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Vancouver Canucks, Saturday, March 21, 2015, in Los Angeles.
Vancouver Canucks players celebrate a goal by Bo Horvat as Los Angeles Kings’ Drew Doughty, foreground, stands on the ice during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, March 21, 2015, in Los Angeles. The Canucks won 4-1.
Los Angeles Kings’ Jordan Nolan, left, and Vancouver Canucks’ Luca Sbisa, of Italy, collide during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, March 21, 2015, in Los Angeles.
Vancouver Canucks’ Shawn Matthias, left, skates past Los Angeles Kings’ Brayden McNabb during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, March 21, 2015, in Los Angeles.
Los Angeles Kings’ Anze Kopitar, right, of Slovenia, tries to score against Vancouver Canucks goalie Eddie Lack, of Sweden, during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, March 21, 2015, in Los Angeles.
Vancouver Canucks’ Ronalds Kenins, left, of Latvia, shoots under pressure by Los Angeles Kings’ Brayden McNabb during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, March 21, 2015, in Los Angeles.
Vancouver Canucks’ Shawn Matthias, left, is defended by Los Angeles Kings’ Matt Greene during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, March 21, 2015, in Los Angeles.
From right, Los Angeles Kings’ Jeff Carter, Marian Gaborik, of Slovakia, and Drew Doughty celebrate a goal by Gaborik as Vancouver Canucks’ Chris Tanev, foreground, skates past them during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, March 21, 2015, in Los Angeles.
Vancouver Canucks’ Derek Dorsett celebrates a goal by Daniel Sedin during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Los Angeles Kings, Saturday, March 21, 2015, in Los Angeles. The Canucks won 4-1.
Los Angeles Kings’ Jake Muzzin, center left, passes the puck against Vancouver Canucks’ Chris Higgins during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, March 21, 2015, in Los Angeles. The Canucks won 4-1.
Los Angeles Kings goalie Jonathan Quick, center, stops a shot by Vancouver Canucks’ Chris Higgins, right, as Kings’ Drew Doughty watches during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, March 21, 2015, in Los Angeles. The Canucks won 4-1.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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