Canucks Vs. Kings: Strong Special Teams Carry Vancouver To 3-2 Win Over L.A.

Vancouver's special teams came through Thursday night to help hold off L.A., 3-2. The Canucks scored two power play goals in the first period alone, and their penalty kill stopped the Kings on five of six opportunities.

The Vancouver Canucks brought the NHL's hottest power play and penalty-killing unit to defeat the Kings, 3-2. Vancouver scored two power play goals in the first period, and killed five of six penalties through three periods to help hold off the Kings. L.A. was close to tying the game toward the end, but their own failures, along with the Canucks' play early on, didn't help their efforts.

The most damning stat for L.A. in Thursday night's matchup was the number of first period power plays Vancouver earned. The Canucks gained three power play opportunities to the Kings' one opportunity in the first period alone. Out of those three chances, the Canucks scored twice with the man-advantage to take an early 2-0 lead, scoring twice within less than a minute. 

It also didn't help that late in the period, Aaron Rome took advantage of Dustin Penner's brokeN stick situation and blasted a knuckler past Jonathan Quick for Vancouver's third goal. With 56 seconds to go in the first frame, Kyle Clifford and Dale Weise dropped the gloves, probably as Clifford hoped to bring some fire to his teammates. Weise, however, attempted to battle without getting too much into it, realizing his squad had the three-goal upper-hand and outshot the opponent 12-3 after one.

The second period was more evenly matched. The Kings started the period out with more physicality but as they were able to gain more chances offensively, they continued to be frustrated.  Andrew Ebbett, who scored Vancouver's second goal, made a great defensive play on L.A.'s second power play of the game, placing his stick in front of Anze Kopitar's and not allowing the cross-ice pass from Richards to succeed. However, on L.A.'s third 5-on-4 chance, Jack Johnson faked a shot, and slap-passed it to Drew Doughty, who finally came through for the Kings on his second goal of the year, his first coming in the previous match against the Predators

Vancouver could have had a fourth goal in this game to put things away with 34 seconds remaining in the second period, but Jannik Hansen's skate made contact with Quick, causing him to be unable to sit square and maintain his balance. The contact was minor, but enough to give the Kings reason to get in a scrum with the Canucks and enough for the officials to waive the score. 

Luongo has struggled often this season, but he looked his definite best early in the third period, as for the first five minutes, L.A. stormed the Canucks' zone and jammed the crease. The Kings pushed and jabbed at pucks, but Luongo appeared as confident as ever, sitting square to every single shot. 

Still, L.A. finally played a more disciplined game in the third, drew a late power play, and after multiple chances, finally got within one goal with 1:10 remaining as Mike Richards won the faceoff, drew it back to Kopitar at the point, and Kopitar blasted a shot that deflected off of Richard's stick past Luongo. 

The Kings kept pushing for the game-tying goal, but time ran out and the Canucks held on to win, 3-2. 

Vancouver played a stifling game on both ends of the ice in the first two periods. They came into this match with the hottest power play unit, placing at second in the league with a 26.4 power play percentage. Not only were offensive special teams working, but the penalty kill is fourth in the league at 88.4 percent, and it showed as a huge factor in keeping the Canucks in the lead throughout the game. November has already been a much better month for Roberto Luongo and the rest team than October, now at 3-2 so far. The Canucks will now be on the search for consistency.

L.A.'s penalty trouble early on in the match did not help them against Vancouver's strong 5-on-4 play. But the Kings started to figure them out as they forced the Canucks to take penalties and open the ice a bit. Nonetheless, once the Kings got over Vancouver's defense and penalty kill, they struggled to connect on passes and made too many moves once they had the open shot on Luongo. L.A. is now winless in six of their last seven games. After their next game against Minnesota, the rest of November has the Kings facing division foe Anaheim in a back-to-back, home-and-home series, Detroit, a surprising Dallas team, Chicago and San Jose. 

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