LOS ANGELES -- In a matter of 10 months, the Vancouver Canucks have gone from the brink of claiming the franchise's first Stanley Cup championship to being bounced in the first round.
And the way the series has developed against goalie Jonathan Quick and the upset-minded Los Angeles Kings has been eerily similar to the way the Canucks finished up against the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup final last spring.
Like the Bruins, the Kings have played a strong team game. Like the Bruins, the Kings have received strong goaltending. Like the Bruins, the Kings simply have not yielded many odd-man rushes or second-chance opportunities.
As a result, after the 41-save shutout from Quick in a 1-0 win, the Kings now have a 3-0 series lead in the Western Conference quarter-final with Game 4 back at the Staples Center on Wednesday (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 10 p.m. ET).
"We probably deserved better," Canucks goalie Cory Schneider said. "But that's not the way the playoffs work.
"We got a lot of shots, but [Quick is] seeing a lot of them. We had it in their end a lot, but we couldn't get that perfect shot or that lucky bounce.
"You have to give them credit. They're not giving us odd-man rushes and not many second chances. They're playing a great team game right now."
The 26-year-old Schneider certainly played as well as Alain Vigneault had hoped when the Canucks head coach decided to play the capable backup over Roberto Luongo in Game 3. But without leading sniper Daniel Sedin, who has been out with a concussion since Mar. 21, there has been little offence from Vancouver these days.
Do we need to point out that the Canucks checked in with only eight goals in the seven-game final against the Bruins? Do we need to point out that Vancouver only has four goals in three games in this series?
The lone goal to beat Schneider on Sunday was a juicy rebound he surrendered to Kings captain Dustin Brown 6:30 into the third period. Brown, of course, was the hero in Game 2 with two short-handed goals. He also made the biggest bang of the game in the second period with a crunching body check on Vancouver captain Henrik Sedin in front of the Canucks bench.
Sedin was vulnerable with his head turned the other way. But the hit was clean. It wasn't late. And it wasn't directed at Sedin's head.
Both Sedin and Vigneault remarked the hit was clean. Henrik left the game briefly, but returned. He departed for a couple minutes because he was winded.
"I just got my chance to finish my check and I did," said Brown, who has four of the Kings'nine goals in the series.
"We didn't play as good as we could have in the first. I think [the hit] gave us a lot of energy."
Brown now has 28 points in the 24 games since word leaked out that Kings general manager Dean Lombardi considered moving him before the trade deadline.
"He was huge again tonight," Kings head coach Darryl Sutter said. "That's why he's our captain.
"[He] was awesome again tonight. I think he was a physical force.
"He's been good every game, right? Every game's been so different.
"I thought we deserved to win Game 1. I thought they deserved to win Game 2 and tonight was [a coin toss]."
The Canucks haven't had much luck in these coin-toss playoff games. Now they have two days to figure out if they can send this series back to Vancouver for a Game 5 and Vigneault will have to decide whether to stick with Schneider or go back to Luongo.
They couldn't get it done against Boston. And now, if they are swept on Wednesday, it will be eight losses in their last nine playoff games.
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