The Vancouver Canucks remedied their balanced scoring woes as Mason Raymond and Mikael Samuelsson potted goals, along with Daniel Sedin. They also improved their discipline, but the underlying problem all series long has been horrendous penalty killing, a lack of advantage between the pipes, and no breaks with the officials.
The Los Angeles Kings scored three times on their first three powerplays after Mason Raymond silenced the Hollywood crowd only two minutes into the game.
The Canucks penalty killing, anchored by all-star goaltender Roberto Luongo has been absolutely horrendous, allowing 7 goals on 12 opportunities. If the Canucks had semi-legitimate penalty killing, this series would likely be 3-0 Vancouver.
There are lots of possible 'if's though. Perhaps the largest "what if" on the Canucks mind would be whether or not Daniel Sedin's disallowed goal in the third period could have triggered another comeback from the league leading comeback experts.
On a play where Alex Burrows swept the puck toward the front of the net, Daniel Sedin, being pressured from behind, turned his skates to stop in front of the net and arguably to redirect the puck past Kings' goalie Jonathan Quick.
The referees called it a goal, but NHL's Situation Room called and instigated a very long video review of the play. After much time had passed, they ruled Daniel kicked the puck into the net.
Here was the NHL's ruling on the play:
"Upon review, it was determined that the puck was propelled into the net by a kicking motion. This was not a deflection. The direction of the puck was moving, and the force of the skate were the determining factors No goal."
Have a look for yourself.
It's pretty hard to argue that there is a kicking motion. The NHL rulebook states that a goal can be disallowed when "the puck has been kicked using a distinct kicking motion." That video pretty clearly does not indicate a distinct kicking motion. There may be a re-direct, but not a pendulum-like kicking motion.
The man who made the decision from the NHL Office in Toronto had the following to offer CBC after the game regarding Daniel's attempt:
In our view, Daniel "Twisted his toe and got a little more push on the puck". Twisted his toe? If you say so.
Brad Ziemer of the Vancouver Sun had this to say:
"Asked by the CBC to comment on the disallowed goal by Daniel Sedin early in the third period, Murphy, the NHL's vice president of hockey operations, had this to say: "He knew what he was doing when he stopped in front of the net. . .I think he knew where the puck was, absolutely."
Murphy said it wasn't a "distinct kicking motion" but a "kicking motion." Oh, there's a difference.
He said Sedin "twisted his toe" and pushed the puck in the direction of Jonathan Quick's five-hole."
He also shared his thoughts on Henrik Sedin's comments after the game. "Henrik Sedin's quote after the game.
"I didn't even think they were going to take a look at it," Henrik said. "I thought it was a great goal. Then they went upstairs and it took forever and I was like, 'wow, this is unbelievable.' Sometimes it seems like the guys in Toronto they sit there and make their calls anyway they want. This is the playoffs. They had to over-rule it, too, that's the toughest part. If the refs said no or it's questionable, that's fine. He said it was a good goal. It's awful."
Despite the disallowed goal, the Canucks rallied to make it 4-3, but Ryan Smyth's seeing-eye puck put the Canucks away, en route to a 5-3 final.
Once again the Kings were electric on the power play, but offered little else in way of sustained pressure, save for a term during the second period.
The Vancouver Canucks suddenly trail the series 2-1 and simply must be better in game four. The question is, what can they do?
1) Penalty Killing - the Canucks Penalty Killing has been horrible. 7/12 times the Canucks have surrendered a goal in this series and if that does not improve - they will be eliminated by next week. Alain Vigneault faces an interesting situation as his personnel on the penalty kill cannot really change. He will have to adjust their level of aggressiveness, and the players will have to step up and get the job done.
2) Roberto Luongo - Make no mistake about it, Roberto Luongo has not been in this series. In fact, he may have stolen game one for them with his heroics on Jack Johnson in overtime. On the other hand though, he is being out-duelled right now but his counterpart, Jonathan Quick. Roberto Luongo is the leader of the Canucks and is supposed to be their best player. Through three games, this has hardly been the case on the ice. A timely save by Luongo after the 2-1 goal in game 2 could have preserved a lead. In tonight's game, the fourth goal was likely the only one he could be blamed for, appearing unready on Brad Richardson's surprising shot. Certainly Luongo saw what happened to Evgeni Nabokov and the San Jose Sharks last night and all goaltenders would have been put on alert there.
The bottom line is, the Vancouver Canucks will need Roberto Luongo to steal a game for them in this series. He is supposed to be an Ace in the hole and has not delivered as of yet. Without quality penalty killing however, the team in front of him will not be doing him any favours.