KINGS at CANUCKS
(Los Angeles leads best-of-seven series, 1-0)
TV: NBCSN, CBC, RDS, KCOP-13 (HD)
Big Story: Discipline. When Canucks forward David Booth, in his first playoff game, hammered Kings defenseman Drew Doughty the first shift of Game 1 Wednesday, Los Angeles took the hit, turned it into a 3-on-2 the other way and, if not for Roberto Luongo, would have been ahead 32 seconds in.
When the Canucks continued to try to throw their weight around, the Kings made them pay on the power play. Mike Richards scored on a 5-on-3 that started with Ryan Kesler in the box for unsportsmanlike conduct after a snow shower on Jonathan Quick, and ex-Canuck Willie Mitchell at the end of a five-minute boarding major to Byron Bitz, who was in his first playoff game in three years. Add in charges against Maxim Lapierre and rookie Zack Kassian, and the Canucks almost tried too hard.
"I thought we had a lot of energy but we ran out of position to get those big hits," said Alexandre Burrows, who scored the game's first goal.
Canucks: Vancouver's power play came into this series with a statistical edge over the entire season, but no momentum due to a slump that effectively started in mid-January and the absence of top goal scorer Daniel Sedin. It failed to generate any in Game 1 either, only managing one shot on the first four chances and failing to convert any of the three shots -- one a great rebound chance -- on a final opportunity with the game on the line in the third period.
Meanwhile the Kings lamented not doing more with eight advantages, but the tone they set on the power play even when they didn't convert was key.
"They kept us in our end for the full two minutes and it's tough mentally," Canucks captain Henrik Sedin said.
Kings: As good as Los Angeles looked outshooting the Presidents' Trophy-winning Canucks 39-26 in Game 1 -- and 29-14 through 40 minutes -- there was a firm belief in their locker room after the game they had more to give. There was also a lot of talk they'd need it against a Canucks team that never trailed in a playoff series en route to a Game 7 Stanley Cup Final loss to Boston.
That some of it came from Mike Richards isn't a surprise. The former Flyers captain leads the Kings in postseason experience with 64 games despite being just 27 years old, and is being counted on to lead this postseason. After a sub-par first season in Los Angeles that included just 44 points and only five of his 18 goals since Christmas and after coming back from a concussion, Richards scored the Kings' first goal and assisted on two others in Game 1, including starting the play that led to Dustin Penner's late game winner.
"You know that he's a guy who, when the money's on the line, he's going to show up," said Jeff Carter, who played with Richards in Philadelphia. "He led the way tonight for us."
Who's Hot: The Kings' power play came into the series ranked 17th in the NHL, but much like their overall offense, it was much better late in the season, scoring eight times on just 22 chances over the final eight games. That continued into Game 1 against the Canucks, with the first goal coming on a 5-on-3 and the second on a five-minute power play, finishing 2-for-8 on the night. And for all the talk of Los Angeles being 29th in scoring, they continue to average more than three goals a game since acquiring Jeff Carter before the trade deadline.
Injury Report: Vancouver is still without top goal scorer Daniel Sedin, who has been out with a concussion since March 21 and wasn't on the ice Wednesday after practicing with the team Monday and skating with spare players Tuesday. Defenseman Keith Ballard (concussion) appears ready to return, but after missing more than two months may not get back in without another injury.
Los Angeles is without forward Brad Richardson, who had an emergency appendectomy Monday but may not have played anyway, and has been missing scoring forward Simon Gagne since late December because of a concussion.
Stat Pack: Ryan Kesler had two assists in Game 1, his first multi-point game since Dec. 26.
Penner's game-winning goal, which came after being moved up onto the second line with Richards and Carter, was his first in 10 games. He had only seven in the regular season.
It was the first time all season the Canucks gave the opposition eight power plays, and the fact two overlapped to create 5-on-3 advantages, and another was for a full five minutes, only makes it worse for a team that played down a man for more than 12 and a half minutes.
Puck Drop: This is the first time in nine playoff series -- and in 11 that opened at home -- that the Canucks have lost the first game. Vancouver won the first two at home in three of four rounds last postseason. The Kings, meanwhile, are looking for their first series win since 2001, when they fell behind 2-0 against the Red Wings before winning the final four games to advance.