Sunday, April 18, 2010
Kings edge Canucks in Game Two
The first round series between the Vancouver Canucks and Los Angeles Kings looks prepped to be a long one. The Kings played the best game of the series and won 3-2 on an overtime goal by Anze Kopitar.
The Vancouver Canucks got off to a strong start, leading 2-0 after one period of play.
Steve Bernier potted a Ryan Kesler rebound after his shot hit the post in a first period powerplay. Shortly after that 1-0 goal, Mikael Samuelsson continued his hot start with a light wrister from just inside the blueline. It was a shot that Los Angeles goaltender would like to have back.
The Canucks looked poised to blow the game wide open despite only recording 4 shots in the first period. They missed quite a few shots and carried the balance of play. Despite a strong first period, penalties seemed to ruin the Canucks' momentum. Canucks' D Andrew Alberts continued his stretch of poor play with three minor penalties on the evening, costing them a powerplay goal yet again (Alberts of course took the major penalty in Game One that let the Kings back into that hockey game).
The Kings tallied on the powerplay midway through the second, and again only 35 seconds later when Sami Salo stumbled creating a 3-1 rush for the Kings which Kopitar capitalized on with a great cross ice pass to Wayne Simmonds.
The third period started slowly before being what Glen Healy called a 'track meet'. North-South hockey indeed. The Sedin twins looked to have a great chance with a two on one with three minutes remaining in the game, but Drew Doughty made a great defensive effort to thwart the attack and help push the game to overtime.
In the overtime period, the Canucks took a too many men penalty, and the Kings star forward, Slovenian Anze Kopitar wasted no time, potting his own rebound behind Roberto Luongo for the overtime winner.
Curiously, two nights after saving a sure-goal, Luongo accidentally knocked the winning puck into the net with the butt end of his stick. Many Canucks fans may remember that Luongo did that 2-3 times in as many games earlier this year. Certainly expect Luongo to consider changing goal sticks.
PuckWatch's Take: The Kings produced a much greater effort as indicated by the shot totals in Game Two. Some lineup juggling saw the Kings demonstrate greater depth up front, look for them to play the same lineup in Game 3 Monday. For the Canucks meanwhile, look for Coach Alain Vigneault to use any excuse to sit Andrew Alberts after his 23 penalty minutes in two games. Aaron Rome or Nolan Baumgartner would be suitable replacements. Look also for Vigneault to consider moving young Michael Grabner up in place of Pavol Demitra, who has not been the player he can be thus far.
Doughty and Kopitar played well for the Kings, and Edler, Kesler and the twins played well for the Canucks. Both goaltenders were fairly solid as well. The Kings did a good job capitalizing on the Canucks mistakes, but the Canucks appear to be the better team through two games. Having said that, they will have to improve their penalty killing and improve their shooting accuracy if they are to capitalize on their experience and edge of play through two games.
Lastly, both teams may have valid complaints about the officiating in Game two. 24 hours after the Avalanche complained about the officiating in Game Two of their series against the Sharks, that same crew worked the Kings/Canucks game on Saturday night.
Among the questionable calls were two mysterious holding calls against Canucks' Pavol Demitra and Kings' Jeff Halpern. In addition, there were two - three missed goaltender interference calls where Frolov and other Kings' forwards bumped Roberto Luongo. On the other side, Jared Stoll's clearing attempt resulted in a delay of game penalty, despite clearly deflecting off Henrik Sedin's stick on the replay.
Both teams boast some exciting talent and Game Three and Four in Los Angeles will be interesting!