Kings Cough Up Lead, Ousted by Canucks
With the Kings trying to stave off elimination in Game 6 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals at home before a standing-room only crowd of 18,287 at Staples Center, Vancouver Canuck’s goalie Roberto Luongo stood on his head making 30 saves that gave his team the opportunity to rip the game away from the Kings.
“Luongo is a great goalie,” Kings head coach Terry Murray said. He added, “I don’t think Vancover has seen [Luongo’s] best yet. I know he’s better than what he played against us.”
The Kings outshot the Canucks 26-11 through two periods. Had it been anyone else other than Luongo in the crease for the Canucks, the Kings would probably have been leading 7-1 at the end of the second period.
Case in point: 6:54 in the second period Ryan Smyth tried to take advantage of Luongo lying on his back in the crease. Smyth made a point blank shot over the prone Luongo who shot his glove up and caught the puck midair.
But it was Alexander Frolov - yes that Alexander Frolov - who drew first blood for the Kings on a wraparound at 10:08. To make it even sweeter it was a 5-on-5 goal, a situation the Kings have struggled with in this series having given up 15 to the Canucks while scoring only five times.
The Canucks came back in the second period eight seconds after Kings’ captain Dustin Brown was sent to the penalty box for interference with a goal by Steve Bernier off of the face-off to tie the game at 8:38.
The Kings retook the lead after Daniel Sedin’s tripping penalty expired with Drew Doughty getting a slap shot past Luongo for the 2-1 advantage 15:57 in the second period.
But for the second time in this first round series, the Kings who were 29-0-2 in the regular season when leading after two periods gave it all away.
Vancouver struck early in the third period to tie the game when Kevin Bieksa scored his first goal of the series off of a Daniel Sedin assist from behind the net at 1:57 which quieted down the rabid crowd.
The Canucks sensing they could end things here picked up their intensity outshooting the Kings 11-6 and outhitting them 9-8 in the third period.
Despite the onslaught the game seemed to be headed to overtime when Mikael Samuelsson fanned on a shot breaking his stick. Daniel Sedin got the puck and clanged it past Quick for the winning goal with 2:03 left.
“If that stick does not break, it probably gets through to the goaltender,” Murray said about the goal. “It might go over the net. Something different happens there for sure.”
Alexandre Burrows iced the game with an empty-netter with 1:07 remaining.
“Everybody is disappointed in here,” Brown said, “and it is important we learn from this.”
The disappointment was apparent all the way to the top with the President of Business Operations and Kings’ hall of famer Luc Robataille giving Brown some consoling words after the game.
But the message of hope for the next season permeated amongst the players.
“Hopefully next year we can push it further,” Wayne Simmonds said. “We’ve just got to look forward to next year.”
And there is a lot of hope. The Kings had one of their most successful seasons ever with 101 points, third-most in franchise history. They tied a franchise record with 46 victories and set a record with 24 road wins and a nine-game winning streak.
The fans, appreciative of the season the Kings gave them, stayed until the very end giving the team a standing ovation in defeat.