Not only had the Vancouver Canucks lost three times to the L.A. Kings this season, heading into Saturday’s contest, but two of those three games hadn’t even really been close.
The Kings had dominated, the Canucks had wilted. That changed Saturday in a feisty tilt that had just about everything.
The Canucks finally exorcised their demons against the defending Stanley Cup champions in a crucial 4-1 victory. Vancouver scored four unanswered goals, including a pair of empty netters to clinch the win and two points that keeps them second in the Pacific Division.
The Canucks improve to 86 points, which puts them four ahead of L.A.
Eddie Lack was sensational, especially early in the first period. He made 25 saves, as it was the Canucks who had the large edge in shots on goal, with 42, against the league’s best five-on-five possession team.
The game turned early in the third period. In a tied game and his team already short-handed, Kings forward Tyler Toffoli was given a major penalty for boarding and a game misconduct for hitting Alex Burrows dangerously from behind.
Burrows was injured, but did return to the game late in the third period.
On the ensuing five-on-three power play, the Canucks scored on Radim Vrbata’s 27th goal of the season.
In another physical game, the Canucks managed to get to goalie Jonathan Quick.
In the second period, Quick got up swinging at Henrik Sedin after the Canucks captain jabbed for the puck just as Quick covered it up for a whistle.
As the scrum formed at one end, Lack rushed from his net to center ice before apparently being told by an official to stop right there, while Quick appeared to shout something down to the Canucks goalie.
“If he wanted it, I would have gone for sure,” said Lack.