|Playoff Record: 1-3
Last Game: 3-1 W at Los Angeles (APR.18.12)
Playoff Series: Trail 1-3
Season Series: 2-1-1
|Playoff Record: 3-1
Last Game: 1-3 L vs Vancouver (APR.18.12)
Playoff Series: Lead 3-1
Season Series: 2-2-0
Wednesday night's victory may have been just the first step in what is still a statistically unlikely comeback attempt for the Canucks but for netminder Cory Schneider it was much more than just your typical outing. The win was the first career playoff victory for the 26-year-old. As far as Schneider is concerned, however, he won't worry too much about what the future holds beyond this season and will concentrate solely on doubling his career playoff win total in Game 5. Tonight will mark Schneider's first career home playoff start. The last goaltender not named Roberto Luongo to start a playoff game at Rogers Arena was Alex Auld back in 2004.
The native of Marblehead, Massachusetts - who had never faced the Kings in his career prior to Game 3 of this series - has allowed just two goals in 118:27 of total playing time so far in this series and brings a sparkling 1.02 GAA and .969 save percentage into tonight's game. Overall in his playoff career, which now includes three starts and seven overall appearances, Schneider has a record of 1-1 with a 1.92 GAA and a .938 save percentage.
At the outset of this series, it was unthinkable to suggest that the Kings could walk away as winners without Drew Doughty being a significant contributor. That would have been the case, however, had the Kings managed to win Game 4 on Wednesday. The 22-year-old blue-liner, who led all Kings defensemen in goals (10) and points (36) during the regular season, has been quiet for the most part in this series despite leading the team in time on ice averaging 26:50 per game through the first four outings in the series. He has collected just a single assist so far - that came back in Game 1 - and has only managed five combined shots in his last three outings after netting six shots in the series opener.
The London, Ontario native will be looking to put forth his best effort tonight as he tries to help his team clinch the series in their second try. Dating back to the regular season, Doughty has just one assist in his last eight outings. Doughty, who had three points (1-2-3) during the regular season against the Canucks, had a team-leading seven points (3-4-7) back in the 2010 playoff series versus Vancouver. In 16 career playoff outings, Doughty has amassed 12 points (5-7-12) and 14 penalty minutes.
The Kings went into Game 4 vowing that they wouldn't let up on their physical play especially in light of the fact they would be facing a returning Daniel Sedin, who was coming off a 12-game absence (regular season and playoffs combined) due to a concussion. They certainly lived up to their promise. The Kings, in front of a raucous home crowd that was anticipating their team completing their first-ever sweep of a seven-game playoff series, out-hit the Canucks 50-26 which might seem like they had Vancouver on the run all night long but in this case might have been more of an indication that they were chasing the Canucks who had puck control for most of the evening. Not allowing the Canucks to have extended periods of puck control and keeping them away from prime scoring areas were the Kings' strengths in the first three games of the series but they seemed to get away from that in Game 4.
Another thing the Canucks managed to do in Game 4 with much more ease was get their shots through. Although Vancouver's 30 shots on target in Game 4 was their lowest single-game total since the 26 they posted in Game 1, they saw just 14 of their shot attempts blocked by the Kings. In the first three games of the series, the Kings averaged close to 21 blocked shots per game. The missed blocked shots proved costly with two of Vancouver's three goals coming as a direct result of shots from the point. The Canucks also managed to make life a lot more difficult on Jonathan Quick by getting traffic to the net. Almost all of Vancouver's goals in the series - Kevin Bieksa's game-winner on Wednesday that was the result of a high deflection being perhaps the lone exception - have been caused by either Canuck players screening Quick or have come off scrambles in front of the net. Making sure they clear the front of the net and cutting off the shooting lanes will be the key priorities tonight for the Kings against a Canucks team that may be starting to gain a little confidence on offense all of a sudden.
BRING ON ELIMINATION
After staving off elimination in Game 4, the Vancouver Canucks (trail series 1-3) will try to stay alive in the playoffs again tonight when they host the Los Angeles Kings at Rogers Arena in Game 5.
LIVE ANOTHER DAY
I don't have any thoughts. I don't read the paper. I'm not going to speculate on the next summer or the next season. We still have a season to play right now. - Cory Schneider on what the future might hold for the Canucks' goaltending position.
For a while on Wednesday the Canucks appeared resigned to let their season end quietly with a whimper. Give them credit for finding their game just in the nick of time to, at the very least, extend their campaign by one more outing.
The Kings are very much still in the driver's seat in this series but one has to wonder if their inability to seal the deal on Wednesday has planted a seed of doubt even if it's just a tiny one.
It seemed like they picked up right where they left off. You have to be hard on them. You have to make them earn every inch of the ice, and that's what we're going to have to do. - Kings forward Anze Kopitar on how to neutralize the Sedin twins.
Los Angeles could prove to everyone that Wednesday's game was just an aberration and that they're still the same confidence bunch with a series-clinching win tonight. Lose Game 5, however, and it's a whole new ball game on heading back to the Staples Center for Game 6.
The Kings have never managed to win a best-of-seven series in five games in franchise history while the Canucks have only lost a best-of-seven series in five games twice in team history, most recently in their 2007 Western Conference Semi-Final series against the Anaheim Ducks.
Game 6 of this series, if necessary, goes on Tuesday at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Tonight's game faces off at 5 pm PT and can be seen coast-to-coast in Canada on CBC's Hockey Night in Canada. The game can also be seen by viewers in the U.S. on the NBC Sports Network. Listen live on The TEAM 1040 Sports Radio or online at teamradio.ca.
Those away from a TV or radio can follow @CanucksGame on Twitter for live in-game play-by-play.
Game Notes on Canucks.com are written by Daniel Fung. Follow him on Twitter @daniel_fung or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For the Canucks...
F Aaron Volpatti (shoulder surgery) is on the injured reserve list.
For the Kings...
F Kyle Clifford (upper body) is day-to-day. F Simon Gagne (concussion) and F Scott Parse (hip surgery) are on the injured reserve list.
8 – Playoff wins for the Kings all-time when having a chance to clinch a best-of-seven series (8-7). (0-1 in 2012 playoffs).
22 – Playoff wins for the Canucks all-time when facing possible elimination (22-24). (1-0 in 2012 playoffs).
31 – All-time playoff road wins for the Kings in franchise history (31-66). (2-0 in 2012 playoffs).
52 – All-time playoff home wins for the Canucks in franchise history (52-59). (0-2 in 2012 playoffs).
187th – All-time playoff game in Kings franchise history. Los Angeles has an all-time playoff record of 72-114.
219th – All-time playoff game in Canucks franchise history. Vancouver has an all-time playoff record of 99-119.
406 – Consecutive sellouts for Vancouver Canucks hockey at Rogers Arena entering tonight's game. The sellout streak began on November 14, 2002 and includes 361 regular season games and 45 post-season games.
Cory Schneider's first career playoff victory on Wednesday didn't come easy by any stretch. Schneider made 43 saves in the win including one off a third period penalty shot by Dustin Brown.
Brown's penalty shot was the third playoff penalty shot the Canucks have ever faced in their franchise history while Schneider's save marked the first time Vancouver has ever thwarted an opponent's penalty shot attempt in post-season play.
Los Angeles' Steve Duchesne had previously scored against Kirk McLean in Game 4 of the Smythe Division Semi-Final back on April 10, 1991 while last year, Chicago's Michael Frolik scored on Schneider in Game 6 of the Western Conference Quarterfinal on April 24, 2011.
Counting regular season and playoffs, Schneider has now stopped four of five penalty shots in his career.