Canucks put damper on Kings' playoff hopes with road victory
Vancouver opens up 4-0 lead midway through 2nd period
Nikolay Goldobin assumed his first goal with the Vancouver Canucks would simply cap off a comfortable win in his debut for his new team. It proved to be far more valuable than that.
Goldobin's goal midway through the second period proved to be the difference as the Canucks held on for a 4-3 win over the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday night to end a four-game losing streak.
Sven Baertschi scored twice, Henrik Sedin had a goal and Ryan Miller made 41 saves as Vancouver won in regulation for just the second time in its last nine games.
"That was a real relief," Canucks defenceman Ben Hutton said. "It [stunk], the third period there, a couple power-play goals for them, but the guys stuck with it. You could tell the guys wanted it tonight."
Appearing in just his 12th career game and first with the Canucks after being acquired from San Jose in a trade last week, Goldobin corralled Hutton's pass and sped ahead of everyone to give Vancouver a 4-0 lead built on two bounces that went against Los Angeles.
Sedin benefited from a deflection off Drew Doughty's stick that put the Canucks up 2-0 with 1:32 left in the first. Doughty was trying to break up Sedin's pass to a streaking Alexander Edler during 4-on-4 play, but the puck took a wild bounce and ended up in the back of the net. The Kings' bench was outraged that Miller was not called for tripping Jeff Carter just before the Canucks broke the other way and scored.
Los Angeles was also culpable for Baertschi's second goal 6:38 into the second, with Nic Dowd inadvertently kicking the puck in after Baertschi knocked down Bo Horvat's miss.
"We got some breaks in the second," Canucks coach Willie Desjardins said. "It wasn't like we were playing that well in the second, but we capitalized on our chances, which was good."
But after Goldobin scored, the Kings nearly mounted a furious third-period comeback for the second straight game.
Anze Kopitar's sniper shot just under the crossbar finally got the Kings on the scoreboard late in the second. Trevor Lewis cut the Kings' deficit to 4-2 with 7:57 remaining. Alec Martinez then made it 4-3 with 1:21 to play, but Los Angeles could not come up with the tying goal to send it to overtime despite having the puck in the offensive zone.
Ben Bishop made 17 saves in his home debut for Los Angeles, which missed out on a chance to move three points ahead of St. Louis for the second wild card in the Western Conference.
"On the score sheet, we may be close, but really the first two periods, it was nowhere near close enough to our game, and nowhere near close to being good enough," Kopitar said.
While the Kings are still in playoff position, Desjardins likes how his club is performing down the stretch. Horvat's three assists matched his career high, and it was his eighth multipoint game this season. Loui Eriksson was aggressive in helping create Baertschi's first goal, and Miller stood in well against the Kings' barrage of shots.
"I think our team has good parts right now," Desjardins said. "I don't think we have played as well as we can play, I think we have more, but saying that it was good to get the points today."
If Goldobin, who was selected No. 27 overall in the 2014 draft, can contribute moving forward, his new teammates expect the Canucks to be all the better for it.
"I know I was super-excited when he put that one in and I'm sure everyone on the bench was, too," Hutton said. "It's not easy coming to a new team and being new to the league, too, so he did a great job tonight, I thought, and hopefully he continues to put the puck in the net."