Daniel Sedin helped the Vancouver Canucks rid themselves of the inconsistencies that have plagued them for the past month.
Sedin scored the tiebreaking goal with 8:24 to play, Roberto Luongo made 21 saves in his 300th career victory,
and the Canucks opened a five-game road trip with a 3-1 victory against the Los Angeles Kings at the Staples Center on Saturday.
Jannik Hansen scored in the first period and Alexandre Burrows added an empty-net goal for the Canucks, who have stayed on top of the league despite alternating wins and losses for a full month. Vancouver hasn't played terribly, but also hasn't always showed the 60-minute dedication Sedin saw Saturday.
"We knew they were going to come out physical, and I think that got us going," said Sedin, the NHL scoring leader. "This is going to be huge for us going forward after getting a test like this."
Sedin broke open a tight defensive game with his 33rd goal on a rebound of Christian Ehrhoff's shot. Drew Doughty and the Kings' bench were irate, claiming Sedin cross-checked Doughty into Quick right before the goal.
"That's a ... shame that that goal is allowed," Los Angeles coach Terry Murray said before storming out of his postgame interview session. "The guy's in the crease, Quick can't move his stick, and Doughty is pushed off over the top of our goaltender. It should not be allowed. That's a penalty."
Doughty, a Norris Trophy finalist last season, kept complaining throughout the final minutes, earning a misconduct penalty after Burrows scored his 18th goal.
"I made contact. There's going to be contact," Daniel Sedin said with a shrug. "I don't know, I was just battling in front. I couldn't really say."
Jonathan Quick stopped 33 shots, and Dustin Penner scored his first goal for the Kings, who lost in regulation for just the third time in 18 games.
Vancouver, which plays at Anaheim on Sunday night, hasn't won consecutive games since early February, but also hasn't lost back-to-back games since late January.
"It's tough to go full-throttle for 82 games," said Luongo, the 25th goalie - and sixth-youngest overall -- to win 300 NHL games
. "Obviously we feel that we're not playing our best hockey right now, but we're still a .500 team, and that says a bit about our group in the locker room. We just need to get ourselves in gear and realize that obviously there are going to be games like tonight, a lot down the stretch here, and we just have to find ways to win."