VANCOUVER, B.C. – Henrik Sedin’s 100th NHL career goal could not have come at a better time Friday night – and his 101st was pretty timely, too.
The Canuck centre’s twin markers 30 seconds apart gave Vancouver a 4-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings before a sellout crowd of 18,630 at General Motors Place.
“Every game is this tight, so it was a big win for us,”said Sedin.
True to form, he said little about his milestone, but it prevented a late Kings’ comeback from becoming a millstone around the Canucks’ necks. Sedin’s goals, his first in nine games, broke a 2-2 tie after the Kings had scored 26 seconds apart only a minute and 28 seconds earlier to erase a 2-0 deficit that had stood up after the first period.
“Those are things that are going to happen,” said Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault of the two quick goals against. “As a team, you’ve got to show your own mental strength and your own character. That was a strong response by our team.”
The Canucks ended a two-game losing streak, which included a loss Monday to the Kings in L.A., and improved to 35-23-9. It was Vancouver’s eighth straight win at home.
The Canucks also held on to fifth place in the tight Western Conference while moving within four points of the fourth-place Chicago Blackhawks and a chance at home-ice advantage in the first-round of the playoffs.
Vancouver remained one point ahead of Columbus. The Canucks faced a must-win situation to remain fifth after the Blue Jackets beat the Blackhawks earlier Friday night.
Sedin’s goals came on only Vancouver’s second and third shots of the third period. The Canucks outshot Los Angeles 32-26 but recorded only 12 shots over the final two periods. Vancouver went one-for-six on the power player while the Kings were one-for-five.
“The first period was the difference in the game,” said Kings coach Terry Murray. “They came out with all the desperation that they needed to play the right way and play harder than we did and had the puck most of the first period.”
The hosts took a 2-0 lead in the first period as they outshot the Kings 20-3. It marked the seventh time this season the Kings were held to three shots in a period. The Canucks have been the opponent the last two times.
But the Kings were able to rally in the second period as the Canucks struggled on the power play. After being stoned by Vancouver goaltender Roberto Luongo on excellent chances in the scoreless middle frame, Frolov and Kopitar finally did score between 6:50 and 7:16 of the third.
But Sedin then put on a show as he converted a nifty backhand pass from Ryan Kesler on an odd-man rush. He then staged a spin-o-rama in front of Kings defenceman Sean O’Donnell before fooling rookie goaltender Jonathan Quick with a wrist shot.
“I had a good angle on him,” said O’Donnell. “I didn’t think he could beat me but he made a cutback and another spin. My stick was there. I don’t know whether it went in front of my stick or underneath it. It was close but it wasn’t close enough. But it was a nice play by him to get a shot away.”
Perhaps none were more relieved than Luongo, who thought Kopitar was going to pass instead but fired a shot from the side boards instead.
“Yeah, I was real happy,” said Luongo.
But the goaltender won’t be happy with the Canucks’ strong play until they’re closer to securing a playoff spot. He does not want to see a repeat of last season’s last-season woes, when they lost seven of their final eight games.
“We all know what happened last year, so there’s no letting back,” said Luongo, who made his 12th straight start and 21st in the last 22 games.
But Sedin wasn’t about to take credit for bailing his goalie out.
“He’s played really well lately and that stuff is going to happen,” said Sedin. “It’s not a big deal for the guys here. We know how good he is and he’s going to battle back, so we knew if we go one more goal we’re going to win the game.”
After the Canucks enjoyed several excellent early chances, Burrows finally turned on the red light on a fluke goal at 10:39 of the first period. He converted an easy tap-in after Kings goaltender Quick misplayed Taylor Pyatt’s shoot-in from the Canucks’ zone and the puck came right in front of the empty net.
“I was looking up the ice trying to figure out what my options were and the puck took a weird bounce off the boards and jumped in front,” said Quick.
Sundin gave Vancouver a 2-0 lead on a five-on-three power play at 17:58. Kevin Bieksa’s slapshot hit Quick in the chest, went up high in the air, came down and Sundin tapped the puck in just before it hit the ice.
It was Sundin’s second goal in four games.
Notes: Concessions and restaurants were closed inside GM Place during the game because of a strike by Aramark food and beverage workers. Limited service by management was available at some concourse locations . . . O’Donnell is due to play his 1,000th career game Saturday in San Jose . . . Vancouver scratched extra defencemen Rob Davison and Ossi Vaananen, who has yet to make his debut for the Canucks since being claimed on waivers from Philadelphia on Feb. 27 a span of seven games . . . L.A. veteran left winger Kyle Calder was a healthy scratch for the first time since Oct. 20 . . . The Canucks honoured late B.C. Lions president and CEO Bob Ackles in a pre-game ceremony.