Dustin Brown was involved right from the opening drop of the puck Monday night.
The L.A. Kings’ captain and U.S. Olympian destined for Sochi was fighting, hitting and, most importantly for he and his teammates, scoring in a hotly contested 1-0 victory over the visiting Vancouver Canucks.
Brown’s goal at the 24-second mark of the third period – after a broken play on a three-on-one rush for L.A. – stood up as the winner.
But what made him the focal point of the Canucks’ nastiness Monday was a collision between him and Roberto Luongo nine days ago that resulted in Vancouver’s No. 1 puck stopper suffering an ankle injury.
Luongo is traveling with the Canucks on this current three-game trip, so a return for him seems near.
But that wasn’t the point for the Canucks. They were intent on sending a message, and feel strongly they did just that.
“Everything that happened with Roberto last game, he knew from the opening puck drop he (Brown) had to fight someone. A lot of guys stuck up for each other. That was a big statement by our team,” Ryan Kesler told Ben Kuzma of the Vancouver Province.
Kesler ended up fighting Brown, his U.S. Olympic hockey teammate for Sochi, in the second period.
In the first, Zack Kassian was given a penalty for bringing down Brown after Kassian got his stick caught up between Brown’s legs as they were jousting off the opening faceoff.
All of that didn’t seem to faze Brown at all. Not by the way he ultimately put the Canucks away.
After that, the visitors failed on two different power play chances, and have now gone 0-3-1 against the Kings this season. The rivalry has been rather one-sided.
“I mean it’s no different than any other game. Tonight was because they were upset about what happened with Luongo,” Brown said afterward, as per Brad Ziemer of the Vancouver Sun.