VANCOUVER – The Los Angeles Kings refused to quit.
The Kings battled back from a 2-0 deficit, then used Anze Kopitar’s power-play goal at 7:28 of overtime to beat the Vancouver Canucks 3-2 Saturday night.
The win ties the NHL Western Conference quarter-final series 1-1 and sends the Kings home bubbling with confidence.
“It feels just huge to get the win (and) to do it in this kind of style,” said Kopitar, who also had an assist. “We showed a lot of character at the end when we needed it.”
Kopitar won the game with the Canucks playing a man short after being called for too many men on the ice.
It was chance the Kings didn’t want to waste.
On the winning goal, Canuck goaltender Roberto Luongo stopped Kopitar’s first shot. Kopitar found his own rebound and shot again.
Luongo made the save, but the puck spun into the air. When the Canuck goalie turned to grab the puck he knocked it into his own net with the butt of his stick.
A quiet crowd of 18,810 watched the Kings stream onto the ice to celebrate.
Kopitar, who scored his first career playoff goal, said the Kings remained calm instead of panicking after falling behind.
“We were down quite a bit during the season and we rallied back a couple of times,” he said. “We kind of have the feeling we can do it and the confidence we can do it.”
The too-many-men call came while the Canucks were changing lines. A King shot the puck toward the bench where it hit Vancouver defenceman Kevin Bieksa, who was scrambling to get off the ice.
The penalty left Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault fuming.
“It was the wrong call,” said a terse Vigneault. “You are allowed five feet and the rule is the player coming on the ice cannot play the puck.
“Yeah, that puck touched one of our players. It touched (him) trying to get off the ice because he was cut.”
A linesman making the call didn’t improve Vigneault’s mood.
“We’ve got two referees that have red stripes on their sweaters,” said a terse Vigneault. “They should make the call if they think it’s a penalty and not the linesman.
“It’s unfortunate, but that’s the way it is.”
L.A. defenceman Drew Doughty wasn’t offering the Canucks much sympathy.
“I don’t think you can argue too much,” said Doughty, a member of Canada’s Olympic gold medal team. “If you have six guys on the ice, you have six guys on the ice.
“It was a good call for us, so I’m not going to complain about it.”
The Kings are making their first playoff appearance since 2002, but coach Terry Murray said his team looked like old pros.
“To be able to get a split, to play in this building and deal with the emotions of playing in Canada, it was a real good, solid team effort,” said Murray.
“The young guys played well. They played like veterans for me.”
Vancouver looked to have the game locked up by scoring two goals on four shots to lead 2-0 with less than 10 minutes gone in the first period.
The Kings’ Wayne Simmonds, who tied the game on a three-on-one breakaway, said being down early gave Los Angeles plenty of time to come back.
“We still had 50 minutes left,” said Simmonds. “It’s a never-say-die attitude.
“That’s the way we played all year.”
Mikael Samuelsson, with his third of the playoffs, and Steve Bernier, on a power play, scored for Vancouver. Ryan Kesler, who was quiet in the opening game of the series, had two assists.
Fredrik Modin, on the power play, also scored for Los Angeles, who outshot Vancouver 32-26.
The Canucks won the opening game 3-2 in overtime Wednesday. The series returns to Los Angeles for games Monday and Wednesday.
The Kings managed to keep NHL scoring champion Henrik Sedin and his brother Daniel off the scoresheet.
Henrik Sedin said the Canucks may have been guilty of thinking ahead to the next game after taking the lead.
“We sat back a little maybe and they pushed harder than they did last game,” he said.
The Canucks were also frustrated over giving up six power-play chances. Modin’s goal gave Los Angeles life, while Kopitar’s killed Vancouver.
The Kings tied the game on a play which started when Canuck defenceman Sami Salo fell at the L.A. blue-line. Three Kings started up the ice with Alexander Elder the lone defenceman back.
Kopitar carried the puck, then fed Simmonds who beat Luongo with a low shot. It was the Kings’ first even-strength goal of the series.
Bernier opened the scoring at 7:33 with Ryan Smith in the penalty box for interference. Kesler let go a shot that Quick appeared to get a piece of. The puck bounced around in the crease until Bernier finally managed to shovel it into the net.
Quick looked soft on Samuelsson’s goal. The big Swede, who scored the winner in overtime Wednesday, let go an innocent-looking wrist shot from about 40 feet out that skipped by Quick’s right toe.
Doughty praised Quick for not losing his composure.
“Right before that he made an unbelievable save that not too many goalies in the league are going to make,” he said. “He played unbelievable and stole the game for us.”
Vancouver’s Kyle Wellwood said the Canucks must put Game 2 behind them.
“It’s just a matter of smarter decisions out there and being more confident,” he said.
Notes: Defenceman Andrew Alberts was back in Vancouver’s lineup despite taking a boarding major and game misconduct in Game 1. He was called for two penalties in the first period and another in the third. . . Forward Michael Grabner was inserted for his first NHL playoff game, meaning Matt Pettinger watched from the press box. . . Defenceman Christian Ehroff had 30:35 of ice time in Game 1.