LOS ANGELES, Calif. – Nine days after Dustin Brown injured Vancouver’s Roberto Luongo in a collision, the Los Angeles Kings captain knew he wore a virtual target throughout the rematch. He even had to fight Ryan Kesler, who will be his U.S. Olympic teammate in four weeks.
Brown survived just fine, and he figured out an even better way to hurt the Canucks this time.
Jonathan Quick made 28 saves in his 27th NHL shutout, Brown scored early in the third period, and the Kings beat Vancouver 1-0 on Monday night for their fourth win over the Canucks this season.
Brown converted on a 3-on-1 rush just 24 seconds into the final period of a fight-filled game for the Kings, who earned just their third win in 10 games. In a game featuring 109 penalty minutes and a handful of fights, Brown landed the only blow that really counted.
“It’s no different than any other game,” Brown said. “They were upset about what happened with Luongo, but I’ve been in that situation before.”
Brown isn’t worried about any Sochi awkwardness after his scrap with Kesler, who dropped the gloves with Brown just 6 seconds into the second period, pulling Brown’s jersey over his head and whaling on him.
And in typical hockey player fashion, Kesler also sees no reason they can’t still be friends.
“I think he knew from the opening puck-drop that he had to go with someone, with everything that happened with Roberto the last time we played,” Kesler said. “We were just sticking up for our teammate. He talked a little bit and then we started to go. … It’s not awkward at all. I know him off the ice and he’s a good guy, but right now on the ice he’s the enemy.
“He plays the game hard, I play the game hard, but I’d say we’re friends off the ice.”
Neither Pacific Division rival scored in the first two periods of the Canucks’ second visit to Staples Center this month, but both made a steady parade to the box with a combined 103 penalty minutes—already the most in any Kings game this season—highlighted by that fight between American stars.
Los Angeles stayed ahead of fourth-place Vancouver in the division standings, beating the Canucks four times in a season for the first since the 1990-91 campaign.
“We just don’t like them very much, so they’re always going to get our best effort,” forward Jordan Nolan said.
Quick was unbeatable while making his fifth consecutive start since returning from a 24-game injury absence. The U.S. Olympic goalie posted his second shutout of the season and his first since Nov. 7, a week before he severely strained his groin.
“It’s usually like that when you play these guys,” Quick said. “They’re a tough team, and we’ve developed a bit of a rivalry over the past few years after playing them in the playoffs a few times. That’s what you expect when they come in here.”
Eddie Lack stopped 19 shots in his fourth straight start for the Canucks, who were shut out for the first time all season during their sixth loss in seven games. Yet Vancouver left Staples Center feeling good about its response to the physical challenge posed by the Kings, particularly Brown’s rambunctious game.
“It was one of our best games of the year,” Canucks captain Henrik Sedin said. “If you look at the way we were battling, getting in on the forecheck and everything we need to do to win games, we were right there. … We didn’t really care about (penalties) today. We went out there and did everything we could to stand up for each other and for our teammates, and we killed off those penalties anyway.”
The Kings had a man advantage for 8:13 in the first period after Tom Sestito was ejected for attempting to instigate a fight with Nolan, who didn’t even drop his stick.
Los Angeles finally broke through when Vancouver’s defence ended up out of position to stop the Kings’ top three offensive players on a 3-on-1, with Brown batting home a rebound of Anze Kopitar’s shot for his 10th goal.
NOTES: Los Angeles begins a five-game trip in St. Louis on Thursday, returning to Southern California for back-to-back games against Anaheim. The Kings don’t play at Staples Center again until Jan. 30 while the Grammys take over the building, but they will have a “home” game at Dodger Stadium against the Ducks on Jan. 25. … Luongo was scratched, and Joacim Eriksson backed up Lack.