Kings Can't Finish off Vancouver
The Kings hadn't been in this position in nearly a decade when they faced a Game 7 against the Colorado Avalanche in the Mile High City on April 29, 2002, a 4-0 loss. Hit the fast-forward button, the Kings still couldn't find the finishing touch in their 3-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks.
"We knew this was going to be the hardest game of the series," Drew Doughty said.
They seemed to take that to heart coming out the gate with energy. Anze Kopitar capitalized on Mason Raymond barely laying a finger on him on the boards by the bench, broke away and wristed a shot past Canucks' goaltender Cory Schneider as if he were trying to airmail it back to Slovenia.
"We had a very good first period," Dustin Brown said. But everything seemed to go by the wayside in the second period.
As Canucks' head coach said, "We finally got a bounce and built off of that." That bounce was named Daniel Sedin. After being knocked out with a concussion by Chicago Blackhawks' Duncan Keith on March 21, Daniel Sedin rode into town on a while horse (or plane, or whatever it might be.) The Canucks' potent power-play that had gone silent in this series going 0-for-14 heading into Game 4 came alive going 2-for-3.
"It obviously was a big difference for them getting guys back," Sutter said.
All three goals scored by the Canucks occurred when Daniel Sedin was on the ice.
"As soon as you see Danny back there — so patient with the puck and he breaks it down as good as anybody in the League," Alexandre Burrows said. "Especially with Hanky [Henrik Sedin] there, they’re able to move the puck to open areas and find lanes and find seams and that’s why they’re unbelievable together."
Kopitar isn't hanging his head in defeat. "We had some chances we didn't put away," he said. "They buried their chances, bottom line."
The best chance came in the third period when Brown had a short-handed breakaway chance. Vancouver defenseman Kevin Bieksa tripped Brown from behind resulting in a penalty shot from Brown, only the second for the Kings in the playoffs since April 10, 1991 against Vancouver. Unlike Steve Duchesne, Brown didn't make the goal, and 22 seconds later Henrik Sedin scored.
"It's a big momentum save for them," Brown said. "It goes from a 2-2 game to a 3-1 game. I made a move, he made a save."
The standing room only crowd of 18,409 was raucous at the beginning of the game, the hopes of witnessing the first ever Kings' playoff sweep on their minds. But as the game wore on and the inevitability of Game 5 became more and more real, it really started to sound like a Lakers' game.
However it can't be minimized how this core group of Kings' players have never closed out a playoff series. Rhetoric is one thing; actual experience is another.
For Brown, the problems in Game 4 were easy to diagnose.
"In games like this, I thought we got away from our game plan a little bit. We didn't finish our checks as much, we weren't as physically into the game as the first three.
"The fourth one is going to be the hardest for us, and we've got to understand that and apply our game plan."
Doughty wasn't much too worried about having to go back to Vancouver.
"It's going to be a fun situation to be able to close them out, hopefully, in front of their home fans. It's going to be another task at hand. It's going to be one that we love to do."
The Kings will have to wait a while thanks to Coldplay performing at Rogers Arena in Vancouver on Friday and Saturday.