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Kings can't close out deal in 3-1 loss to Canucks in Game 4

With a chance for the first playoff sweep in franchise history, the Kings instead let Vancouver's power play get on track. Game 5 is Sunday in Vancouver.

April 18, 2012|By Lisa Dillman

The dust was being blown off NHL record books. Potential alliterations trotted out -- Vancouver Vanquished? -- and then discarded. The next step was thinking about measuring space for a Dustin Brown statue in front of Staples Center.

There was one small matter: The Kings had to go and play the second period Wednesday night.

They were 40 minutes away from sweeping Vancouver in their first-round, best-of-seven playoff series, which would have been a franchise first for Los Angeles. But the Canucks, looking almost zombie-like in the opening period, stirred to life in the second and kept on the pressure, defeating the Kings, 3-1, in Game 4, scoring twice on the power play.

Vancouver received a huge emotional boost by the return of star forward Daniel Sedin, who had not played since March 21 because of a concussion. He was credited with one assist -- on the Canucks' third goal -- but he was on the ice for all three of their goals and sparked the once-dormant power play.

"I think we gave him too much room out there," Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said. "Especially with a guy who hasn't played for a while and just got back. I think we needed to take the body on him a little more and play him a little harder."

The Kings were two periods from becoming the first team to sweep the Presidents' Trophy winners in the first round. The Elias Sports Bureau said it had never been done.

"When you get at this level, the professional level, the instincts come out," Kings winger Justin Williams said. "They don't want to be shut out. They don't want to be the team that's going home early. There's a lot of pride in every one of those hockey players and it comes out in the deciding game. And that's why it's the hardest one to win."

Game 5 will be on Sunday in Vancouver with the Kings leading the series, 3-1.

That will be the Kings' next shot at attempting to win their first playoff series since 2001.

Wednesday's game at Staples Center was filled with momentum switches you see so often in playoff hockey, small, big and sensational.

First, the last switch.

With the Kings trailing, 2-1, they had the chance to equalize when their captain, Brown, was pulled down by Vancouver defenseman Kevin Bieksa, at 5 minutes 23 seconds of the third period.

Brown was awarded a penalty shot -- just the second in Kings' playoff history -- but Cory Schneider played it aggressively, stopping him on the attempt.

"Obviously I'd like to do it again," said Brown. "He made a good save and [it was] probably the biggest moment of the game. I kind of had my move. He came out really far, so I really didn't see much to shoot at.

"I tried to fake and he bit on the first fake but he had a good pushoff."

As it often happens, the Canucks responded with a goal of their own, 22 seconds later when Henrik Sedin broke through on the power play with a rebound from the base of the circle, making it 3-1.

"It goes from a 2-2 game to 3-1 in a matter of seconds," Brown said.

But this one started to turn in the second period when the Kings' Colin Fraser took a needless penalty in the offensive zone, tripping Keith Ballard at 3:33.

Vancouver tied it at 1-1 on defenseman Alexander Edler's wrist shot from the point, which beat Jonathan Quick between the legs.

Doing the heavy lifting behind the scenes was Canuck center Ryan Kesler, who took the puck from Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell and then screened Quick.

That power-play goal ended a 0-for-14 drought for the Canucks in the series and gave them life and the jump that had been absent.

Until then, it had been all Kings.

Center Anze Kopitar had scored his first goal of the playoffs, at 13:00 of the first period, to make it 1-0. He victimized the Canucks' Mason Raymond as the forward whiffed on the backcheck, an embarrassing miscue at any level, let alone an elimination game.

The game marked the return of Kings forward Brad Richardson, who had an emergency appendectomy on April 9. Richardson was solid on the fourth line and had three shots on goal, in about 10 minutes of ice time.

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