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Kings Fail To Hold Lead, Fall to Canucks 6-4

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With a 3-2 lead going into the third period, the Kings failed to hold on allowing the Canucks to win the game 6-4 tying the playoff series at two games apiece.

The Canucks got back to what got them into the playoffs which was evident on the go-ahead goal: speed.

With both Wayne Simmonds and Anze Kopitar behind the Canucks’ net fighting for the puck, Simmonds as he was falling to the ice tried to lunge the puck over to Ryan Smyth. Henrik Sedin ended up with the puck and raced down the ice with his four linemates while the Kings were stuck in the Canucks’ zone. Without the numbers Kings’ goalie Jonathan Quick had almost no chance on Henrik Sedin’s wrister with less than three minutes left in regulation.

“They are a transition team,” Smyth said. “They thrive on that kind of stuff and it showed. We have got to eliminate the turnovers and the odd man rushes.”

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It was the Kings who were the dominant team in the first period battering the Canucks. They outhit Vancouver 21-11 had two takeaways. And yet again they capitalized on the power-play when Drew Doughty collapsed in front of the net and shot the puck in 13:26 in the period.

“I loved our start,” Kings head coach Terry Murray said. “The first period was exactly what we needed.”

But as the second period started the Canucks started to get their game going. Christian Ehrhoff tied the game 1-1 on a power-play goal off of a pass on the left point by Alexander Edler 3:36 in the second period.

The Kings would answer back with a power play goal of their own 2:20 later when after a face off in the offensive zone the Canucks stood around a second too long allowing Dustin Brown to get his slapshot in the net, his first playoff goal of his career.

This marked six consecutive power-plays the Kings had converted making Canucks’ head coach Alain Vigneault’s move of using the Sedin twins on the penalty kill look desperate.

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But that penalty kill team would end up killing the last two Kings’ power-plays forcing the Kings to retrieve the puck on the boards.

“They scored six in a row, so we’ve gotta try something,” Vigneault joked. “I think our guys were doing cartwheels on the bench when we finally killed one.”

“We knew they were going to change some things,” Kopitar added.

The teams would exchange goals within two minutes of each other when Pavel Demitra scored at 15:35 of the second period and Anze Kopitar scored on a 4-on-4 situation with goalie Jonathan Quick pulled due to a delayed penalty at 17:09 giving the Kings the 3-2 lead heading into the third period.

The turning point of the game was the two saves by Luongo early in the third period: on a deflection by Brown on a power play 4:21 in the period and on a breakaway by Alexander Frolov 6:21 in the period that left Luongo sprawling on his back in the crease.

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“At the end of the day when the game is on the line, sometimes you’ve got to make the save,” Luongo said.

Sami Salo tied the 3-3 with a shot from the blue line 12:16 in the third period on a power-play, but the Kings once again answered back a minute later when Wayne Simmonds scored on a rebound from Smyth to go up 4-3.

But that mistake on the Sedin goal gave the Canucks the lead for good, and an empty netter by Ryan Kesler with 17 seconds left cemented the win.

“We were a little bit tight in the first period,” Vigneault said of the Canucks’ play, “but our guys played through it and found a way to get their game to the level that it needs to be to beat such a strong opponent. We were able to tie the series.”

“It would have been great to go up 3-1 in the series,” Kopitar said. “We’ve got to learn from our mistakes. They have a good team, and they have some guys that can take advantage of our mistakes.

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“It’s about us. We’ve shown that if we play our game we’re successful against them.”