"Back to Vancouver lads, that way!" - Vigneault, above

Game in a Sentence:

The Canucks live to fight another day after some solid goaltending and special teams play created too much of a gap for the Kings to surmount.

Observations:

- The Canucks didn’t look comfortable off the bat but it was clear that the injection of Daniel Sedin into the lineup gave them a totally different look on the attack and the proof was in the pudding – pudding, of course being the food equivalent to hockey’s power play. I practically told you what you already know.

- The Kings, ironically enough, may have played their best game of the series. Offensively they were as potent as they have looked, they were very physical and got the same solid goaltending as always from Jonathan Quick. It was just one of those games where the Canucks simply did what it took to win, regardless of whether or not they truly deserved it. Somewhere the Detroit Red Wings sympathize with the Kings.

- An interesting point I felt really set the tone early on was a matchup between the two bottom lines. The Kings really took the Canucks to task in a battle of the pluggers and that seemed to energize the rest of the team. It was not long after that when Anze Kopitar broke the deadlock between the two.

- Speaking of that Kopitar goal, sweet heavens is he a really good hockey player. Not only would I argue that he is the most underappreciated two-way center in hockey, he has some serious offensive flash which really wasn’t showcased in an off year for goals scored in the Los Angeles area.

- Further related to that Kopitar goal: What was Mason Raymond doing? Seriously. What was he doing?

- After they had a period to rekindle whatever genetic chemistry came with the package, the Sedins set the tone for Vancouver’s attack. Alex Edler, a consistent whipping boy – and rightfully so – throughout the series, broke the goose egg for Vancouver and tied the game. What I really noticed on that power play is how the Kings down low seemed to hover toward Henrik on the sideboards, opening up a lane for Edler to get the puck on net. Kesler was in great position in front, you know, the one he scored 40 goals from, and Daniel had the backside covered up if there was a loose puck or rebound. The Vancouver power play is a different animal with 22 and 33 in the lineup.

- Again, related to that, you saw the same effect on the Bieksa goal. I’m wondering if Quick would have been able to account for the bounce off of Richards had Doughty not cut in front of the crease with the puck on its way back to the point so he could mark Henrik. There was also the small matter of Quick having to worry about the guy standing right next to him having a goal scoring pedigree.

- And for the hell of it, the third Vancouver goal was pretty much everything you need to know about the team that has won the last two Presidents’ Trophies in one play. Great board play, Sedin-to-Sedin (shocker!), crisp passing and opportunistic scoring. Really amazing to see how much you need to alter your defensive strategy with that second elite player on the top line.

- An underlying point to Vancouver’s play tonight was the fact they largely kept the stupidity to a minimum. I still think they lack an energy and focus to have me believing they’ll advance but when they leave the garbage outside the rink they’re much more effective.

- In case you didn’t see it earlier tonight, Henrik Sedin on Dustin Brown was a thing.

I don’t know about you but that seems an awful lot like a David Steckel “Oh, you’re there? Gee, I’m sorry.” type of hit.

- I’m not the coach but if I was Jordan Nolan wouldn’t be playing in game five. Even though there was time on the clock and chances to be generated, I felt as though his moronic roughing penalty really killed a lot of LA’s momentum late in the third. Your minutes are limited as it is, don’t waste them and hurt your team.

- Darryl Sutter said after the game that he felt the Kings played a better game than they did in game three and I agree with him wholeheartedly. The Kings generated more chances than I thought they had in the last game and the shots on goal reflect that. At the end of the day the bounces went Vancouver’s way and the Kings couldn’t catch Schneider out of position.

- Schneider’s penalty shot save, regardless of whether or not it has any bearing on this series, was his “this is my team” moment. One year ago in the first round he couldn’t stop Michael Frolik, got hurt and Luongo regained control. This time he was up to the task and it was an exclamation mark on a great performance from him tonight. Again, the Kings threw everything they had at him and he looked calm, confident and composed. Goalies, like pitchers in baseball, don’t always earn the wins on their stat line but Schneider can take a lot of pride knowing he owned this one.

- I’m not trying to be some sort of troll when I say this as I’m a bigger Luongo supporter than most but there is no way he returns to Vancouver as the starter in 2012-13. He has been arguably the best post-lockout goaltender in the NHL, he is the franchise’s all-time leader in wins and yet for whatever reason he is still ridiculed by fans and (on the surface at least) not trusted by his teammates. It’s time for a change of scenery in a move that would clearly benefit both parties.

- With an elongated break between game four and five, we’ll see if the Canucks can ride out the high from this win or if there’s a level playing field once again. I think the Kings lost some of that killer edge – even with their improved performance – for this one because of the extra time and it’ll be interesting to see if the same thing happens in Vancouver. Make no mistake about it, while the Canucks earned a win tonight they still have a lot to improve if they are to continue their playoff push in round one and beyond.

My Three Stars:

1) Cory Schneider
2) Henrik Sedin
3) Kevin Bieksa

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