Canucks top Kings, take 3-2 series lead

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP)—Mikael Samuelsson(notes) and the Vancouver Canucks’ top line picked up right they left off in Los Angeles. Now they are one win away from the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Promoted to the No. 1 line with Daniel and Henrik Sedin(notes) before sparking a Game 4 comeback on Wednesday, Samuelsson scored twice and added an assist in a 7-2 rout of the Kings on Friday night. That gave the Canucks a 3-2 lead in the Western Conference first-round playoff series.

“We finished there on a good note and put the puck in the net and we started off good today so we had good feelings,” said Samuelsson, who leads the playoffs with seven goals.

Steve Bernier(notes) had two goals, Alexander Edler(notes) and Pavol Demitra(notes) also scored, and Roberto Luongo(notes) made 24 saves. After rallying in the third period to win Game 4 in Los Angeles and avoid a 3-1 series deficit, the Canucks can advance with another road victory on Sunday.

“We came back in Game 4 and brought the momentum back to Vancouver,” Bernier said.

Samuelsson has been a big part of Vancouver’s playoff turnaround.

The 33-year-old Swede scored the tying goal in the third period of Game 4 and put in his first goal Friday just 5 minutes after Daniel Sedin(notes) to chase goalie Jonathan Quick(notes) in the second period. His second goal came on a power play in the third and sent backup Erik Ersberg(notes) back to the bench.

“We haven’t won anything,” cautioned Samuelsson, signed largely because of his playoff experience in Detroit. “It’s the hardest game to finish someone off.”

Henrik Sedin, who led the NHL in regular-season points, set up both second-period goals to knock Quick from the game after 17 saves. He won an offensive zone faceoff to Samuelsson, who fed Daniel Sedin behind the net for a wraparound that Quick stopped. But Daniel lifted the rebound over his pad at 8:26.

“We’re finding each other out there,” said Henrik Sedin, who had two assists after scoring the winning goal late in Game 4. “He’s easy to play with and he’s got a great shot. He tries to get open and we try to get him the puck.”

Samuelsson added his sixth of the series at 13:31 with a seeing-eye shot from the top of the right circle that went past two Kings and beat Quick high glove side.

“You can’t sugarcoat that,” said Kings coach Terry Murray, who pulled Quick and then put him back in after Ersberg gave up two goals on long shots. “The goaltending wasn’t good enough.”

Quick, who gave up Edler’s sharp angle shot on the shortside late in the first period, was beaten by Bernier on a rebound 3 minutes after coming back.

“I would have liked to play a lot better, without a doubt,” said Quick, who finished with 21 saves. “It just wasn’t a great team effort. We didn’t put our best game on the ice, and after the game it’s a terrible feeling to have.”

Michal Handzus(notes), on a power play, and Fredrik Modin(notes) scored for the young Kings, who shook up their bottom three forward lines to little effect.

Justin Williams(notes) returned for the first time since being sent from the first line to the press box as a healthy scratch after struggling in Game 1. He played with Handzus and Modin. Fourth-liner Scott Parse(notes) came out of the lineup.

The new look produced 13 shots through 40 minutes. Los Angeles stayed in it a while with a power play that was clicking at 56.2 percent coming in.

Bernier opened the scoring after a fortuitous bounce off the end boards left him with an open net, but Los Angeles tied it with 5:36 left in the period. Handzus banked his third power-play goal of the series in off defenseman Christian Ehrhoff(notes) from a sharp angle after the Canucks failed on a good clear chance.

It was the 10th power-play goal of the series on 18 chances for the Kings. But after the Sedins and Samuelsson combined for a three-goal cushion, the Canucks killed off two straight, including a 5-on-3 advantage that lasted 28 seconds.

“It was huge,” Kings defenseman Jack Johnson(notes) said. “Whenever you have a 5-on-3, you’ve got to score, especially in the playoffs.”

The chippy game ended with two fights. Top-line Kings forward Wayne Simmonds(notes) scrapped with defenseman Shane O’Brien(notes) with 3:45 left, and agitators Rick Rypien(notes) and Richard Clune(notes) squared off 7 seconds later. Clune appeared to injure his left arm after being taken down, and went straight to the locker room.

The Kings were more upset that O’Brien celebrated after his fight, waving a No. 1 around with his finger, and encouraging the crowd to cheer.

“You don’t need to rub it in at the end of the fight, skating around with your hands in the air, acting like the clown that he is,” Murray said.

NOTES: Demitra, demoted to the fourth line early in the series, moved back to the third line after scoring in Game 4. He had a goal and two assists. … D Andrew Alberts(notes), benched after taking five penalties in the first two games, got back in the lineup after Nolan Baumgartner(notes) was hurt in Game 4. … Rypien replaced LW Tanner Glass(notes) on the Canucks fourth line. … Kings LW Ryan Smyth(notes) was penalized twice for goalie interference after making contact with Luongo. … Drew Doughty(notes), announced as a Norris Trophy finalist on Friday, is tied with fellow defenseman Johnson with six points to lead the Kings in playoff scoring.

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Goaltending

Goalie Team Shot Save
Erik Ersberg LA 4 2
Roberto Luongo Fla 26 24

Scoreboard

Friday, Apr 23