VANCOUVER -- Dustin Penner and the Los Angeles Kings weren't given much of a chance in their first-round playoff series against the top-seeded Vancouver Canucks, but they have everyone's attention now.
Penner scored the winner with 3:14 remaining in regulation as the Kings barged into Rogers Arena and stole home-ice advantage from the Presidents' Trophy winners with a 4-2 victory in Game 1 on Wednesday.
"We came out strong," Penner said. "We knew it was going to be a tough game. We knew they were going to come out hitting, and we were a well-prepared group here. We did a lot of video, and we're a really focused group right now."
After Canucks defenseman Alex Edler turned the puck over to Mike Richards at the blue line, Jeff Carter took a pass from Richards and neatly used his skate to redirect the puck to Penner, who fired the puck into the yawning cage.
Carter, back in the lineup after missing the last five regular-season games with an ankle bruise, was the key to the goal with his nifty footwork.
"The stick wasn't working too well tonight, so it's a good thing the skate was," chuckled Carter, who was acquired by the low-scoring Kings from the Columbus Blue Jackets prior to the trade deadline for Jack Johnson and a first-round draft pick. "I knew Penner was driving there, so it worked out pretty good."
Richards, Willie Mitchell and Dustin Brown, into an empty net, also scored for eighth-seeded Los Angeles, and Jonathan Quick made 24 saves.
Alex Burrows and Alex Edler scored for Vancouver, which got 35 saves from an impressive Roberto Luongo.
Billed as heavy underdogs, the eighth-seeded Kings took the NHL's best regular-season team by surprise with a high-octane effort that saw them hem Vancouver in its own zone on several occasions.
They outhustled the Canucks to loose pucks, didn't allow any odd-man rushes and controlled the momentum for long stretches.
Vancouver also seemed at a loss on offense without the services of leading goal-scorer Daniel Sedin, who remains out with a concussion. The Canucks went 0-for-5 on the power play.
"We can be better than this," Burrows said. "We didn't play our best. We spent a lot of time in the penalty box and spent a lot of energy killing penalties, so it's hard to get any momentum that way."
The teams were tied 2-2 after two periods despite the Kings outshooting the Canucks 29-14 and having eight power-play chances to Vancouver's three.
With 7.3 seconds remaining in the second period, Edler's point shot caromed off Brown's stick and behind Quick to make it 2-2.
Prior to that, it was all Kings.
Los Angeles was rewarded for its efforts with eight power-play opportunities, including a five-minute advantage midway through the second period after Byron Bitz boarded Kyle Clifford. Clifford left the game with a suspected concussion.
The Kings converted late on that opportunity, as Mitchell, a former Canuck, had his point shot hit Jannik Hansen's stick and go past Luongo.
"I think they played a better overall game than we did tonight," Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said. "They came out really hard ... and we ended up with four penalties in the first period, which is a lot."
It was a 1-1 tie after the first period, but only thanks to Luongo's heroics.
The Kings had three scoring chances in the first minute alone, but Luongo made a sharp blocker save on Rob Scuderi and a pair of glove stops on Brown.
Luongo's efforts allowed the Canucks to find their legs and strike first on a controversial goal at 4:17, when Burrows, celebrating his 31st birthday, beat Quick after the goaltender got tangled up with Ryan Kesler. Quick's pleas to the referees for goalie interference fell on deaf ears.
Los Angeles was rewarded with four straight power plays to close out the period, and it converted on a 5-on-3 advantage when Richards beat Luongo with a low shot between the legs after Luongo anticipated a cross-crease pass.
"We knew it was going to be a long series," Luongo said. "We've just got to regroup."
Game 2 is Friday.
NOTES: Henrik Sedin's first-period assist moved him ahead of Pavel Bure for second place in Vancouver playoff history with 67 points. Trevor Linden leads with 95 points. ... Canucks forward Zack Kassian (upper-body injury) was back in the lineup on the fourth line along with Bitz and Manny Malhotra. Dale Weise and Andrew Ebbett were healthy scratches, along with defensemen Marc-Andre Gragnani and Andrew Alberts. ... Los Angeles' scratches were Brad Richardson (appendectomy), Kevin Westgarth, Davis Drewiske and Andrei Loktionov. ... The Kings haven't won a playoff series since 2001.