The Los Angeles Kings have had some good memories with the Vancouver Canucks, and they've only been too happy to remind us of it lately. For example, just see the Stanley Cup Moments feature on Jarret Stoll which has been all over the team website. The good times rolled on January 28 in Los Angeles, when Slava Voynov's late equalizer helped the Kings to an overtime win. The Kings also came in strong after five consecutive victories, while the slumping Canucks had lost five of seven. Unfortunately, the Kings' return to Vancouver did not produce the expected results, as the Canucks got to Jonathan Quick early and often in a 5-2 win.
Los Angeles got off to a rough start when they got caught in their zone early on, and in a theme of the game, Canouver seized an opportunity to go ahead. After a Kings turnover the Canucks compressed and built the pressure, and Alexandre Burrows made a great pass to Daniel Hamhuis for the game's first goal. Three Kings power plays didn't produce much either, and Vancouver was fairly comfortable with their lead for the rest of the first period.
Justin Williams evened the score after Andrew Alberts took a roughing penalty five and a half minute into the second. Alberts left his feet and hit Kyle Clifford high near the boards, though looked the hit probably looked worse than it actually was because Clifford was losing his balance. Williams then received the puck on the cycle from Jake Muzzin and beat Schneider high for is second goal of the year. Kopitar picked up an assist to extend his points streak. However, tonight featured shades of past seasons as the Kings twice let up and allowed a goal soon after scoring. Mason Raymond crossed the blue line with plenty of speed, and despite having two defensemen in his general path, he was able to score high on Quick's glove side.
Los Angeles had another chance to hold their momentum three minutes later when Cory Schneider lost the puck behind the net. His panicked feed to Andrew Alberts bounced in the other direction to Jordan Nolan, and he was able to score on a wraparound before Schneider could react. But once again, the Canucks took back control by converting a good scoring chance. The Kings' sloppy line change allowed the Sedin twins to break into the zone on a 2-on-1, which I'm reasonably sure is the first sentence in the "How To Lose To Vancouver" manual. Henrik Sedin found Daniel Sedin, and Sedin waited out Rob Scuderi and Quick and scored inside the far post. Jannik Hansen scored again a couple minutes later when Mason Raymond entered the zone and was blocked off by Slava Voynov. Scuderi, Jeff Carter, and Mike Richards were left to deal with Hansen, but all three had a rough time of it tonight, and they were unable to prevent Hansen from getting to the slot and scoring a backbreaking fourth goal.
The third period some pressure by the Kings earlier on, with the best chances coming halfway through. Penner received the puck with a ton of space 15-20 feet from the net and took too long to get a shot off. Schneider fumbled the puck away soon after, and was stuck behind the net when Lewis shanked a shot from in front of the net. Three minutes later, Penner had a chance to score on a rebound but couldn't react quickly enough, and the puck bounced away from his skates. Schneider stopped the rest, and Chris Higgins scored into an empty net to provide the final margin.
Recall that February started off with a demoralizing three-goal defeat with little defense (in Anaheim), and technically the Kings' January started off the same way (Opening Day against Chicago). So it's not like this hasn't happened before, and I guess the Kings were going to see their streak end someday. But the ease in which the Canucks got to good positions and found the net tonight was a bit unsettling. The Kings sit in eighth but still have games in hand, and the upcoming five-game homestand will be key as they look to bounce back and solidify their playoff position.