LOS ANGELES, Calif. – Although two wins in October will never make up for four losses in April, the Los Angeles Kings felt a whole lot better about their future after blasting a tough opponent from their recent past.
Jonathan Quick made 25 saves, captain Dustin Brown scored two third-period goals and the Kings avenged their first-round playoff loss for the second time in seven days, beating the Vancouver Canucks 4-1 on Friday night.
Jarret Stoll and Justin Williams also scored for the Kings, who earned their third win in four games to open the season. Ryan Smyth had two assists in the latest rematch of the Kings’ first post-season appearance in eight years.
“I don’t know if it’s special, but it definitely feels good,” said Brown, who scored 50 seconds after Daniel Sedin trimmed the Kings’ lead to 2-1. “Especially to do it the way we did tonight, in front of our fans, that’s a big deal for us. It feels good, but we’re hopefully going on to bigger and better things than the first round of the playoffs.”
Vancouver won that series in six games, but Los Angeles’ lessons from the experience already have showed up during a 3-1 start to the new season during which the club has allowed just six goals.
The Kings spoiled the Canucks’ home opener last Saturday night with a 2-1 shootout victory, and their home performance was even better.
“There’s a great deal of importance to the game,” Kings coach Terry Murray said. “Any time you lose in a playoff series like we did last year, there’s checkmarks on the schedule for those games you really want to come back and give solid efforts in.”
Those efforts have been led by Quick, who earned both wins over Vancouver. A year after setting Los Angeles’ franchise record for victories by a goalie, Quick has allowed just three goals in his first three starts.
He was solid until the final buzzer, with the Kings killing a 5-on-3 disadvantage in the last 26 seconds.
“We know they got a few wins against us at the end of last year, and obviously our guys came in here with a chip on their shoulder,” Quick said.
While Los Angeles has high hopes for its season, Vancouver fancies itself a serious Stanley Cup contender despite a fairly unimpressive opening week, going 1-2-1. The Canucks blew a third-period lead in Anaheim two nights earlier, and they trailed 2-0 heading into the third at Staples Center despite outshooting the Kings 18-10.
Sedin scored his fourth goal of the young season with 13:12 to play, and Roberto Luongo stopped just 15 shots for Vancouver, which went winless on a two-game trip to southern California.
“We’ve got to focus on cleaning up our game,” Luongo said. “It’s not the way we want it, but it’s early in the season, and I’m sure we’ll see them again down the road. Right now goals aren’t coming, but we shouldn’t be panicking.”
Los Angeles went ahead just 2:48 in when Stoll deflected Jack Johnson’s shot off both the blade and shaft of his stick, somehow getting it inside the far post. In the second period, defenceman Jake Muzzin fumbled the puck ahead to Williams, who banked a shot off Canucks defenceman Kevin Bieksa’s skate and through Luongo’s legs.
“We played a decent team, but that’s not enough,” Canucks right wing Mikael Samuelsson said. “We can’t fall behind and miss as many early chances as we did.”
Vancouver finally scored when reigning league MVP Henrik Sedin hurried down the ice and made a perfect pass to Daniel Sedin, who already has six points in four games. But less than a minute later, Brown banged home a pass from Anze Kopitar for his second goal.
Brown added another goal with 7:37 left on a pass from Alexei Ponikarovsky, who got the first point of his first season with the Kings.
NOTES: Muzzin, the 21-year old rookie who surprisingly made the Kings’ roster out of training camp, got his first NHL point in his fourth game. He was the OHL’s defenceman of the year with Sault Ste. Marie last season. … D Willie Mitchell spent the past four seasons with the Canucks before signing a two-year deal with Los Angeles in late August. … Kings D Davis Drewiske’s assist on Stoll’s goal was his first point since Dec. 31, 2009. … Actor Vince Vaughn, English power couple David and Victoria Beckham, and reality-show dancer Bristol Palin all attended the game.