Daniel Sedin snapped a 2-2 tie with 2:03 left in the third period on Sunday to push the Vancouver Canucks past the Los Angeles Kings and into the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
The game winner came on a broken play: Daniel Sedin entered the zone and made a cross-ice pass to his brother Henrik, who set up Mikael Samuelsson for a shot. Samuelsson's stick broke, but the puck had enough momentum to slide into a diving Michal Handzus and on to Daniel's stick, who beat Quick under the blocker.
"Hank made a great pass to [Samuelsson], I'm not sure if he fanned on it or whatever but the rebound came around to me," Daniel Sedin told the CBC's Scott Oake after the game.
Kings coach Terry Murray said he was extremely satisfied with the performance of his team, and that the winning goal came off a bad bounce for his team.
"That was not a well-placed shot, that was a broken stick. The winning goal, the defenceman came in and broke his stick and the puck just flutters around and it ends up… that very fortunate bounce ends up on their stick.
"If that stick does not break, the puck would've gotten through to the goaltender, it might've gone over the net. Something different happens, that's for sure."
Alex Burrows added an empty-net goal while Kevin Bieksa and Steve Bernier also had goals for the Canucks. Roberto Luongo turned away 30 shots in the win, and was brilliant enough to pull his team toward the finish line.
"Without a doubt [Luongo] kept us in the game, that first period it was all [Kings]," Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault said.
"We knew they were going to come out strong and hard and they did and they dominated us, but [Luongo] kept us in, gave us a chance we tied the second period and we won the third and the series."
Drew Doughty and Alexander Frolov replied for the Kings, while Jonathan Quick made 19 saves in the season-ending loss for L.A.
The Canucks now join the San Jose Sharks in awaiting the winners of the Chicago-Nashville and Phoenix-Detroit series to determine the second-round matchups.
Asked about the possiblity of a rematch with the Blackhawks, the team that ended the Canucks' playoff drive last season, Daniel Sedin said his squad needs to prepare no matter whom they meet in the second round.
"We have such a good team, we have to look forward to anyone. It doesn't matter who we play, we should have a good chance but at the same time [there are] four good teams left in the Western Conference and they're all good teams so it should be tough."
Luongo said after the game that he relished the thought of another chance against Chicago in the post-season.
"That's what we were waiting for, that's what I told [Chicago's Patrick] Kane after the [Olympic] gold-medal game that I'd see them in the playoffs. If we do it'd be great," he said.
"It would be a great challenge for our team and a good opportunity, definitely looking forward to it, but if not, it's business as usual for us."
Kings dominate in 1st period
Despite the way the game ended, there was no indication the Kings felt any hangover from their 7-2 pounding on Friday. They all but pinned the Canucks in their own end in the first period on the way to a 1-0 lead, a 16-5 advantage in shots and a 10-1 lead in scoring chances heading into the second period.
The only thing besides Luongo to slow the Kings' attack were some penalties — Dustin Brown was sent off for hooking down Daniel Sedin three minutes in, but L.A. was able to kill the Vancouver man-advantage.
With their captain released from the box and skating five-on-five once again, the Kings resumed their attack in the Vancouver zone as Frolov nearly scored on a wraparound but was denied by Sami Salo, who slid to the side of the net on his knees to foil the attempt.
The Kings' momentum was stopped again when Kopitar was whistled for hooking down Kyle Wellwood but a shoulder save by L.A. netminder Quick on a Ryan Kesler short-side attempt stopped the only chance from Vancouver before Canucks' defenceman Alex Edler took an interference penalty.
The Canucks held the Kings' cycling attack to the sideboards for the duration of that power play, but just 30 seconds after Edler was out of the box, Frolov made good on his second wraparound attempt of the game — thanks to some help from Henrik Sedin.
The knob of Luongo's stick was caught up on Henrik's stick as the Canucks' keeper tried to lay down the paddle, allowing Frolov to tally his first career playoff goal and give the Kings a 1-0 lead midway through the opening period.
L.A. didn't share the puck in the second period anymore than they did in the first. Kopitar rang a shot off the post after using his speed to force Kevin Bieksa into taking a hooking penalty seconds into the middle frame.
Luongo credited with game-changing save
The Canucks penalty killing unit managed to halt the Kings power play, but it took a miraculous save by Luongo seven minutes into the period to keep Vancouver in the game.
With Luongo on his belly and half in the net, the puck squirted loose into the face-off circle for a wide-open Smyth, who took aim at the top corner. However, Luongo plucked it out of the air with a lunging glove save.
"There was a turnover in our zone and I came out to challenge. The puck squirted out to the slot and I was laying on my side but I saw [Smyth] winding up, luckily for me he doesn't have a heavy shot and I was able to snare it."
"[The save] was huge, obviously. If they go up 2-1 it's a different game," Daniel Sedin said.
Luongo came into the game sporting a .886 save percentage — not exactly a shining stat in the post-season, but he said the only number that matters is in the win column.
"I've been feeling good all series, maybe the stats haven't been there but i'm feeling confident, I'm feeling at the top of my game," Luongo said. "And at the end of the day it's all about getting the wins and we were able to win the series and move on."
That crucial glove stop, the 20th save compared with the eight made by Quick, allowed Steve Bernier to tie the game near the midway point of regulation.
With the Kings' Brown off the ice serving his second penalty of the game, the goal came quickly off the ensuing face-off in the L.A zone after Kings' defenceman Sean O'Donnell couldn't clear the puck. Edler kept it in at the blue line and blasted a shot that Bernier deflected past a screened Quick.
Another bad bounce for Canucks
The Kings regained the lead after Daniel Sedin was sent off on a tripping call with just over six minutes to go in the second. The home squad used the man advantage to jumpstart their slumbering power play, off another goal thanks in part to a Canucks' skater.
After Smyth whiffed on a one-timer attempt in the slot, Vancouver couldn't clear the puck and a Doughty shot deflected off Alex Burrows and past Luongo for a 2-1 Kings' lead.
The third period quickly saw the game even itself up once more, as well as another first-time playoff goal. Just 1:57 into the final frame, Bieksa pinched into the Kings' zone and one-timed a Daniel Sedin pass between the legs of Quick for the 2-2 goal.
A penalty to the goal-scorer set up another series of big stops by Luongo, including arguably the Kings' last best chance for Frolov, who was left all alone in front but was denied by a right leg kick save.