LOS ANGELES, Calif. – The Los Angeles Kings skated into their first home playoff game in eight years to the thrashing guitars of a punk band performing in the upper deck.
The Kings then made sweeter music with their incredible power play, which chased Roberto Luongo out of Game 3 and is threatening to do the same to the rest of his Vancouver Canucks.
Michal Handzus scored two power-play goals, Drew Doughty had a power-play goal and three assists, and the Kings rolled to a 5-3 victory Monday night, taking a 2-1 series lead.
Brad Richardson and Ryan Smyth also scored, and Jonathan Quick made 25 saves as the sixth-seeded Kings surged ahead in the best-of-seven series with another standout game from their relentless power play, which has seven goals after connecting three more times in Game 3.
“We’re really working with each other well,” said Smyth, whose play in front of the net is a big reason for the Kings’ success. “We’re really feeling each other out there and communicating. Momentum is everything in the playoffs, and it’s pretty obvious we’ve got it in the special teams area.”
Game 4 is Wednesday night at Staples Center, where the increasingly shaky Luongo doesn’t exactly feel at home.
The Canucks’ star goalie and Canadian Olympic hero gave up eight goals in an embarrassing loss to the Kings just 18 days ago, and he stopped just 12 of 16 shots before getting pulled late in the second period of Game 3 in front of a raucous Hollywood crowd watching its first playoff game since April 27, 2002.
With all things equal, the Canucks still think they’re better than the Kings. When Los Angeles gets a man advantage, this series shifts precipitously in the Kings’ favour.
“The only thing they had was the power play,” said Canucks defenceman Sami Salo, who was on the ice for two of Los Angeles’ power-play scores. “I think we dominated the game 5-on-5, so we have to dig in tomorrow and figure out our penalty kill, because it’s costing us games.”
Mikael Samuelsson scored his fourth goal of the series for Vancouver, which trimmed a three-goal deficit to 4-3 before the Kings finished strong. Mason Raymond and Daniel Sedin also scored for third-seeded Vancouver, and Sedin had another apparent goal disallowed by video review.
Doughty and defenceman Jack Johnson, who had three assists, expertly ran the show as Los Angeles’ power play again shredded the Canucks, scoring on each of its three chances in Game 3 and connecting each time before the first power-play unit even left the ice.
“We went out there, and the fans were unbelievable,” Doughty said. “I didn’t think (Los Angeles fans) could match Vancouver, but we did just that. … I think we match up really well against Vancouver. Obviously they’re a great team. They finished in third place. But if we keep playing the way we did tonight, we should win the series.”
The Kings’ defensive play against Vancouver’s vaunted Sedin twins line was just as important as their power play, holding the Sedins and Alex Burrows to one shot in the first 40 minutes. NHL scoring champion Henrik Sedin has no goals and three assists in the series, while Burrows is scoreless.
After stressing discipline before travelling to Los Angeles, the Canucks couldn’t have been happy with their three penalties in the first two periods and did the Kings ever make them pay.
Doughty scored midway through the first with a low slap shot through traffic for his first career playoff goal, and Handzus connected on a rebound of Johnson’s shot one period later.
After Handzus batted in a rebound to put the Kings up 3-1, Vancouver’s Kyle Wellwood and Aaron Rome made back-to-back giveaways in their own end, leading to Richardson’s score. Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault then pulled Luongo.
“Everybody knows what we’ve got to do on the ice,” Luongo said. “It’s just a matter of executing it. Sometimes when we’re hesitant, things tend to happen. I’m already focused on the next game.”
After Andrew Raycroft relieved Luongo and Samuelsson trimmed the Kings’ lead, Daniel Sedin appeared to add another goal early in the third when a pass deflected off his right skate and under Quick.
But the goal was disallowed after a lengthy video review determined the puck had been kicked in. Vigneault, whose club lost Game 2 after a questionable penalty for too many men on the ice led to the Kings’ decisive power-play goal, greeted this decision with a frustrated grimace.
“I think it was a good goal, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what I think,” Vigneault said.
“It looked like a kick to me,” Kings coach Terry Murray said.
Just a few seconds later, Sedin scored a no-doubt goal on a long shot through traffic with 15:42 to play, but Smyth boosted the Kings’ lead 5:03 later when his long shot hit Christian Ehrhoff and became a changeup that fooled Raycroft.
NOTES: Handzus has just nine goals in 63 career playoff games. … The Kings wore their all-black third jerseys. … Vigneault made two personnel changes for Game 3, scratching penalty-prone D Andrew Alberts and C Rick Rypien in favour of Rome and F Tanner Glass, who made his NHL playoff debut. Rome had been out for several days with an undisclosed injury.