VANCOUVER – Dustin Brown earned a place in Stanley Cup playoff history and moved the underdog Los Angeles Kings closer to a first-round playoff upset of the favoured Vancouver Canucks.
Brown tied an NHL record Friday with two short-handed goals in one playoff game as the Kings beat the Canucks 4-2 in the second game of their Western Conference quarter-final series Friday night.
“They’re huge goals,” Brown said. “Special teams is a big part of playoff hockey, and it’s not often you are going to see two short-handed goals like that.”
Actually, Brown became the 12th player to score two short-handed goals in a post-season game. The last to pull off the feat was John Madden, then of the New Jersey Devils, against the New York Rangers on April 24, 2006.
In addition to plugger Madden, Brown joined such legends as Wayne Gretzky (twice), Mark Messier, Jari Kurri, Dave Keon among players who have scored two playoff power-play goals in a game.
“(Brown) showed the reason why he’s our captain,” said Kings defenceman Drew Doughty. “He showed a lot of leadership tonight.”
Los Angeles, which only secured a playoff berth with three games left in the regular season, took a 2-0 series lead on the Canucks, who finished first overall in the NHL for the second season in a row.
This marks the first time the Canucks have gone 0-2 when starting a playoff series at home.
Jarret Stoll, on a power play, and Trevor Lewis also scored for the Kings.
Jannik Hansen and Sammy Pahlsson replied for the Canucks.
“Five-on-five we played well. The power play is not good enough right now. Not only are we not scoring but we’re giving up goals,” Canucks captain Henrik Sedin said.
“That can’t happen.”
Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick recorded 46 saves as the Canucks outshot Los Angeles 48-27.
“He’s a younger guy, doesn’t have much experience,” Kings coach Darryl Sutter said of his goaltender. “He’s no different than our other young skaters. They’re still learning lots about it, and they’re doing a good job of it.”
Quick was also involved in a third-period scrum, scuffling with Canucks winger Alex Burrows.
“Ultimately, you’d rather not have that happen,” Quick said. “But you wear a lot of equipment, and those don’t hurt.”
Poor special-teams play proved quite painful for the Canucks, however. The Kings converted one of four power plays while the Canucks were blanked on five.
“It was strictly a game of special teams out there,” Sutter said. “Five on five, we weren’t very impressive.”
“It’s just execution. Execution and communication,” Canucks centre Ryan Kesler said of the struggling Canucks power play. “We’ve got to forget about what just happened and worry about the next game.”
Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault juggled his first and second lines in a bid to kick-start his club’s offence, but the struggling power play stymied his efforts. Despite being badly outshot, L.A. led 1-0 after the first period and 2-1 after the second.
Brown gave the Kings a 1-0 lead in the final minute of the first. Anze Kopitar intercepted a drop pass by Alex Edler in the Vancouver end and then cut in front of the net and tried to deke Luongo, but the goaltender kicked the puck out and got caught up in a pile of Vancouver players.
Brown promptly shot the puck into the vacant net. The goal came while former Canuck Willie Mitchell was off for holding.
The Kings’ lead was short-lived. Hansen drew the Canucks even just 17 seconds into the second period as he deflected a bouncing Sedin wrist shot past Quick.
However, with Mitchell in the box again for holding, Brown scored on a short-handed breakaway exactly five minutes later. The breakaway resulted after Canucks defenceman Dan Hamhuis fell while trying to field a back pass from partner Kevin Bieksa at the L.A. blue-line.
“They’re momentum killers,” Bieksa said of the short-handed goals. “You go out on the power play looking to generate chances. A couple of unfortunate plays and it’s in the back of our net.”
Lewis increased L.A.’s lead to 4-1 on a wraparound at 14:51 of the third, after Luongo did not see the puck sitting beside his pad during a scramble.
Pahlsson reduced Vancouver’s deficit to 4-2 a minute and a half later as he put home a backhand from the slot, but the Canucks could not get any closer, even with a late power play and Luongo pulled for an extra attacker.
The series resumes Sunday in Los Angeles.
“It’s important for us to understand where we’re at and hit the reset button,” said Brown.
Notes: Vigneault is one game away from establishing a Vancouver franchise record for playoff games coached. He stood behind the bench for his 61st post-season game with the Canucks, tying the mark held by Pat Quinn. … Daniel Sedin (concussion) skated on his own Friday morning, but Vigneault continued to say little about the injured winger’s status. … Canucks D Keith Ballard, playing his first game since being sidelined with a concussion in early February, assisted on Pahlsson’s goal. Ballard missed a total of 30 games, 29 in the regular season and Wednesday’s series opener. … F Andrew Ebbett drew into the lineup for his first post-season game as a Canuck. He replaced F Byron Bitz, who served the first of a two-game suspension for a hit to the head on Kyle Clifford in Game 1. … Clifford sat out with an undisclosed upper-body injury. Andrei Loktionov took his place after being scratched from Game 1. … Kings C Brad Richardson also remained out as he recuperates from an emergency appendectomy that he underwent late in the regular season.