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HELENE ELLIOTT

Late penalties ruin Kings' chances in 3-1 loss to Vancouver

A five-minute penalty by Kyle Clifford and a crosschecking penalty by Matt Greene lead to a late power play for the Canucks and a two-man disadvantage for the Kings, who take no shots in the third period.

March 31, 2011|Helene Elliott
  • Vancouver forward Alexandre Burrows, left, falls to the ice while trying to get to a loose puck in front of Kings goalie Jonathan Quick during the second period of the Kings' 3-1 loss Thursday.
Vancouver forward Alexandre Burrows, left, falls to the ice while trying… (Rich Lam / Getty Images )

From Vancouver, Canada — After playing two noncontending teams and winning fairly easily, the Kings on Thursday faced an elite opponent and got their first chance to gauge where they stand after losing Justin Williams and Anze Kopitar to serious injuries.

On the whole, they stood up well against the league-leading Vancouver Canucks — until the emotions of a hard-fought and tense game boiled over and led to two penalties that did the Kings in and led to the end of their four-game winning streak.

Kyle Clifford's five-minute penalty for checking Canucks defenseman Chris Tanev from behind gave Vancouver a late power play, and Matt Greene's crosschecking penalty less than a minute later created a two-man disadvantage, which Ryan Kesler capitalized on for a 3-1 victory at Rogers Arena that clinched the President's trophy for the league's best record and home ice throughout the playoffs.

"We gave ourselves an opportunity to win the game," Kings Coach Terry Murray said. "Unfortunately we were the ones that gave them the opportunity to win the game."

The Kings remained fifth in the West with 94 points, a spot ahead of the Predators because the Kings have played 77 games to the Predators' 78. But even the smallest increase in offensive pressure might have made a difference: They took no shots in the third period, the fifth time that has happened in club history.

"That's not a good thing obviously. We'd like to get 15 shots a period if we can," defenseman Drew Doughty said. "And now that we didn't get a shot in the third period, there's no way we're going to come back from a 2-1 deficit.

"That's something we're not too happy about and next game we've got to get a bunch of shots every period."

Clifford was also assessed a game misconduct for his hit on Tanev and the play likely will be reviewed by the NHL for a possible suspension. "In the environment that we have today it's a play where you've got to let up," Murray said. "There's no question the Vancouver defenseman saw him from the top of the hash mark in … but you do have to let up. That's just the way the environment is."

But Murray was angry that no penalty was called on a hit by Vancouver's Aaron Rome at 11:08 of the third on Kings center Michal Handzus, who was dazed and took a few seconds to get up. Handzus returned, but Murray said the team will monitor him to be sure he's not injured. "That's interference," Murray said in a harsh tone.

The Kings scored the only goal of the opening period when Clifford finished off a setup from Doughty for his sixth goal of the season and first since March 7. Brad Richardson, Clifford's center, had gotten the puck to Doughty, who pinched deep into the zone. With the Canucks crowding the area around the net, Doughty slipped the puck back to the left circle to Clifford, who had no one around him when he took a rising, 35-foot shot.

Vancouver scored twice in the second period, the first time after a turnover by Doughty led to a rush finished off by NHL scoring leader Daniel Sedin at 15:06 and the second on a pinch by Doughty that turned into a quick counterattack and a goal by Christian Ehrhoff with less than a second remaining in the period.

Murray said he didn't fault Doughty for taking a chance on that second play. "You can't ask a defenseman not to make that kind of a play. You've got to give him an opportunity to try to be the player that he is," Murray said.

Kings captain Dustin Brown said he felt the team was too tentative from the start, not just in the third period. And with Williams and Kopitar out of the lineup, even so small a thing as that is likely to cost them.

"We kind of sat back and when you have a team like that they're going to shove it down your throat if you're going to sit back and not attack," Brown said.

"It's 2-1 less than five minutes left and we still have a chance there, but it's tough when you put yourself in that situation at the end of the game. It kind of takes the wind out of your sails."

helene.elliott@latimes.com

twitter.com/helenenothelen

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