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Kings complete stunning upset of Canucks with overtime win

Jarret Stoll scores 4:27 into overtime to give the Kings a 2-1 victory in Game 5 and send them to the second round for the first time since 2001.

April 22, 2012|Helene Elliott

VANCOUVER, Canada — Dustin Brown had long imagined what it would feel like to be on the winning side of the traditional playoff handshake ceremony in which foes who bash each other for weeks exchange congratulations instead of elbows to the chops.

The Kings' captain and emotional leader experienced that exhilaration Sunday for the first time after eight NHL seasons, a wait that sometimes seemed interminable. His patience was rewarded when Jarret Stoll's missile of a wrist shot eluded Vancouver goaltender Cory Schneider 4 minutes and 27 seconds into overtime to give the eighth-seeded Kings a 2-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena, completing a five-game upset of the league's top-ranked team.

"In a word, great," a grinning Brown said of his feelings. "And the way we did it and the team we did it against. Coming in with a lot of people probably not giving us much of a chance....

"It's huge. I've been here for eight, nine years and this is a pretty good feeling for a lot of guys in here, especially some of the guys that have been here for extended amounts of time."

The Kings will next face the No. 2-seededSt. Louis Blues, who eliminated No. 7 San Jose in five games. The Kings won three of four regular-season games from the Blues, two on shutouts by Jonathan Quick.

That series, likely to start Friday or Saturday, will be the Kings' first venture beyond the first round since 2001, when they defeated Detroit in six games and lost in the second round to Colorado.

"They're a big, physical team. Great goaltending, great defensive system. They're going to be quite a test for us," Quick said of the Blues. "We're looking forward to it.

"We're looking forward to the challenge. And hopefully it turns out the same way this one did."

First, though, it's worth taking time to appreciate their accomplishment in becoming the 10th No. 8-seeded team to eliminate a No. 1-seeded team under the playoff format adopted in 1994.

The team that ranked 29th in scoring and wasn't sure of securing a playoff spot until the final days of the season relied heavily on Quick but got enough key contributions from stars and role players to keep Quick's burden from becoming too heavy.

The Kings won all three road games in this series, continuing a league-wide trend in which visiting teams are 26-16 this spring. They had to rally Sunday, giving up a power-play goal to Henrik Sedin in the first period but pulling even at 1-1 at 3:21 of the third period when fourth-line winger Brad Richardson tapped home a puck that had been left in the crease by a creative and forceful Drew Doughty.

Richardson missed the first three games of the series after undergoing an emergency appendectomy and had gotten the least ice time among the Kings through two periods Sunday, partly as punishment for having taken a roughing penalty that gave Vancouver the power play that led to its goal.

"It feels good to finally get over that hump and finally we're coming together as a team," Richardson said of the Kings' success.

Buoyed by his goal, the Kings began to take control in the third and won in sudden-death play because third-line forward Trevor Lewis created enough pressure that Vancouver defenseman Dan Hamhuis turned the puck over. Lewis poked it to Stoll for a short-side goal.

Schneider, who competed against Quick in prep school and in college, praised his old rival and praised Stoll for a good play on the decisive goal.

"He has a quick release. He kind of held it out front and I didn't know where it was going to go," Schneider said. "He picked the corner over my shoulder. It's a tough shot to stop."

Quick stopped 26 shots Sunday and was beaten only on Sedin's backdoor power-play goal. The best goalie ever developed by this goaltending-jinxed franchise stopped 164 of 172 shots in the series, a .953 save percentage to go with his stellar 1.59 goals-against average.

"I think our compete level is what the difference is," Quick said. "Me personally and a few of the guys in the room, it's something that we've never done so it's a great feeling."

And they no longer have to imagine what it would be like.

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