VANCOUVER CANUCKS VS. LOS ANGELES KINGS
Could the Los Angeles Kings, who squeaked into the playoffs, beat the No. 1 seeded Vancouver Canucks?
Despite a season that didn't go as planned, the eighth-seeded Kings began the playoffs right with a 4-2 win over the President's Trophy-winning Vancouver Canucks.
The Kings weren't play a perfect game, but excelled in key areas. They got two power-play goals and killed all five Vancouver's power plays.
"We played well," center Mike Richards said. "Our power play still needs to be better, because it's going to be a crucial part of the series. It's something we have to work on, but overall I thought we played well. We got pucks in deep. We didn't do anything special except just get the puck in deep and try to make them make mistakes and control the game as much as possible."
The Kings, no doubt, will expect a big push-back from the Canucks. During the regular season, the Canucks lost consecutive games in regulation only five times. Game 2 is Friday night in Vancouver.
"I think we've been in the playoffs a couple times now, and we understand a little better what it's about, and the mindset you need to have," Kings captain Dustin Brown said. "We're playing a team that has dominated this league for the last two years, and we can't have any letdowns."
Meanwhile, the Canucks, last season's Stanley Cup runner-up, received a scare. They handed the Kings seven power plays, including two consecutive five-on-three advantages and a full five-minute extra-man situation.
While the Canucks had some misfortune with back-to-back penalties for delay of game after they sent the puck into the crowd unintentionally, the major to center Byron Bitz, for forcing Kyle Clifford to kiss the glass (officially recorded as boarding), could have been avoided. The Canucks also took part in scrums after the whistle -- activities they have strived to avoid in the past two or three seasons.
"You can't take the number of penalties we took tonight," Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said. "Our top personnel were playing tons of minutes. Instead of attacking, we're killing penalties. It's definitely not what we want to do."
The loss spoiled a strong effort from goalie Roberto Luongo, who finished with 35 saves.
--Ryan Kesler had two assists for Vancouver. It was his first two-point night since Dec. 26.
--C Byron Bitz likely faces a disciplinary review after he face-planted Kyle Clifford into the glass. Bitz received a boarding major and game misconduct.
--LW Mason Raymond played on the first line with Henrik Sedin and Alex Burrows. He replaced Daniel Sedin, who missed his 10th straight game with a concussion.
--RW Jeff Carter returned after missing the final five games of the regular season with an ankle injury. Acquired just before the trade deadline, in a deal with Columbus, Carter had six goals and three assists in 16 regular-season games with the Kings.