In a reversal from last Thursday's late-game meltdown against the Edmonton Oilers, The Kings completed an impressive come-from-behind victory of their own Monday, scoring the tying goal deep into the third period, and winning it 3-2 in a shootout over the Vancouver Canucks. Slava Voynov's goal tied the game with 43 seconds left in regulation, and Jeff Carter was the only player to score in the shootout, improving the Kings to 2-2-1 on the young season.
The Canucks' Zack Kassian started the scoring at 13:08 into the opening period with his fourth goal of the season, giving his team an early 1-0 lead. Kassian's goal came off the rebound of an Alexander Edler shot from the point. Vancouver would strike again 4:05 into the second period when Alexandre Burrows wrapped the puck around the net and past Kings goalie Jonathan Quick.
From that point on the Kings stood firm defensively, and finally chipped into the Canucks' two-goal lead late in the second period. Jeff Carter scored with a man advantage, putting a wrist shot into the back of the net and finally breaking the Kings' 0 for 25 power-play slump to start the season. Mike Richards and Simon Gagne picked up assists on Carter's third goal of the year.
The Kings entered the final period down 2-1, and were forced to kill off back to back penalties to Gagne and Dustin Brown early in the frame. After failing to score on a power-play midway through the period, they were forced to pull Quick for an extra attacker with just over a minute left in the game.
With the puck deep in the Vancouver zone, center Anze Kopitar slid a pass back toward the blue line to Voynov. The young defenseman took a hard slap at the puck, which somehow found its way through a handful of bodies and into the net, tying the game with 43 seconds remaining on the clock.
This was the first meeting between the two teams since the Kings outlasted the Canucks in the first round of last season's playoffs. The Canucks were the 2011-12 President's Trophy winners (given to the NHL team with the most points at the end of the regular season), and the Kings barely snuck into the playoffs, grabbing the eighth and final seed late in the regular season.
It was Vancouver's opportunity for revenge, and after they got off to a solid start, it looked as if they would get it. But the Kings battled to keep themselves in the game, and when Voynov's slapshot made its way through traffic and into the net behind Luongo, the Canucks likely felt a familiar feeling of disappointment.
Their has been plenty of attention surrounding the Canucks' dilemma of having two very good goaltender's on their roster. It isn't the worst problem for a team to have, but still, the organization is forced to make a choice between the two. Cory Schneider seems to be the Canucks' choice in net this season, though Luongo is still clearly a number one goalie in the NHL. There have been trade rumors swirling around the club, as the increased use of Schneider in goal means Luongo is becoming an expendable piece in Vancouver. The team would prefer to trade him away, rather than paying him a ton of money to sit on the bench as a backup. Schneider had a subpar performance against the San Jose Sharks the previous night, allowing four goals on 27 shots. Luongo got the start on Monday in the second of back to back games. He played well, giving up only two goals, both of which came with the Kings up an extra man.
The teams went through five minutes of overtime without a goal, leaving a shootout to decide the fate of the game. The first four players in the shootout came up empty, as both goalies made big stops to keep their teams alive. That was until Jeff Carter netted a backhand shot, and left the Kings one save away from completing an impressive comeback.
It was all left up to the reigning Conn Smythe Trophy winner (given to the best player during the Stanley Cup Playoffs), and once again he was up to the challenge. Quick made the final stop on Zack Kassian, earning the Kings their second straight victory, and first at home in 2013.
The Kings will play at home again on Thursday against the Nashville Predators at 7:30 PM PST.
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