The Canucks learned before the puck even dropped for their clash against the Kings on Saturday that losing was not an option if they wanted to keep their slim playoff hopes alive. They found a way to use that as motivation to pull out one of their gutsiest wins of the season.
Alex Edler and Brad Richardson each found the back of the net in the third period to lift the Canucks to a desperately-needed 2-1 victory over the Kings at Rogers Arena.
The victory snapped a three-game winless skid for the Vancouver and allowed them to stay in the playoff race for at least one more day.
Slava Voynov had the lone goal for the Kings, who failed in their attempt to sweep the season series against the Canucks for the first time since the 1980.81 season.
With the Stars' 5-2 win over the Lightning earlier on Saturday, the Canucks needed to earn at least one point in their game against the Kings to remain mathematically in the playoff chase but things certainly looked bleak after 40 minutes of play.
Vancouver, despite a number of quality opportunities, couldn't find a way to solve Los Angeles netminder Jonathan Quick through the first two periods and when Voynov opened the scoring with just 28 seconds left in the middle frame on the power play it appeared that the Fat Lady was getting ready to take stage.
But, unlike some of the recent performances they've turned in, the Canucks would come with a purpose in the third period and play like their season was on the line and it paid off.
Edler tallied the equalizer just 66 seconds into the third period on a fortuitous bounce after Daniel Sedin's centering pass deflected off a Kings players' stick and then off his right skate and past Quick.
Vancouver, who out-shot Los Angeles 20-7 in the third period and 40-26 overall in the contest, would take their first and only lead of the night with just 83 seconds left in regulation after Richardson finished off a perfect pass from Zack Kassian right in front of the Los Angeles net by out-waiting a sprawling Quick and sliding it pass the Kings goalie to round out the scoring.
Eddie Lack, making his 18th consecutive start, stopped 25 of 26 shots in the victory.
Quick finished the game with 38 saves on 40 shots.
The Canucks host Teemu Selanne and the Anaheim Ducks on Monday.
NOTES AND NUMBERS: Zack Kassian's assist on Brad Richardson's game-winner was his eighth point in the last six outings (2-6-8). His 27 points this season is one more than Kings' captain Dustin Brown has amassed. Kassian has played seven fewer games than Brown this season... Henrik Sedin returned to the lineup after missing the last four games with a leg injury. He had one assist in 19:57 of ice-time... Saturday's win was the Canucks' 100th all-time win against the Kings. The Kings are the only team the Canucks have 100 all-time victories against. Calgary is a close second with Vancouver having beaten them 98 times... Yannick Weber (undisclosed) did not play. Emergency call-up Frank Corrado took his spot in the lineup.
PLEASE NO CATNAPS: It's safe to say there are still plenty of Roberto Luongo fans in the Canucks' locker room and they'll be even bigger fans of their former teammate tomorrow. Luongo's Panthers host the Dallas Stars on Sunday (2 pm PT – NHL Network Canada) and in order for the Canucks to still mathematically remain in the playoff hunt, Vancouver will need the Panthers to defeat the Stars. If the Stars manage to earn two points in that outing, then the Canucks will be mathematically eliminated from the playoff race regardless of what happens the rest of the way in the regular season.
NEVER GETS OLD: Drew Doughty's absence from the lineup for the Kings meant 26-year-old Andrew Campbell of Caledonia, Ontario got the opportunity to make his NHL debut. The Kings gave the rookie the standard treatment making the blue-liner take the first several laps of the pre-game warm-up all by his lonesome before joining him on the ice. Campbell, who was a third round pick of the Kings back in 2008, played 14:41 in his NHL debut recording two shots and one hit but was on the ice when Richardson's game-winning goal was scored.
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