Canucks top Kings to clinch best record
Vancouver defenseman Christian Ehrhoff scored the go-ahead goal with 0.9 seconds left in the second period and the Canucks won their first Presidents’ Trophy for the NHL’s best record with a 3-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday night.
Daniel Sedin tied it with 5 minutes left in the second period, then added his NHL-leading 100th point of the season by setting up Ryan Kesler’s goal on a two-man advantage with 4:26 left in the third. Roberto Luongo made 18 saves to help the Canucks win their fifth straight game and 12th in the last 13.
Vancouver, which wrapped up the Western Conference in its previous game, celebrated its 40th season by adding to a franchise record with 113 points (52-17-9), 11 more than the second-place Philadelphia atop the NHL standings. The Flyers, who lost 1-0 to Atlanta, only have five games left and can’t catch the Canucks.
Kyle Clifford scored for the Kings, but was tossed out of the game and given a major penalty for checking from behind after hitting Canucks defenseman Chris Tanev face-first into the end boards. Matt Greene took a penalty for cross-checking Kesler, who rounded out the scoring on the 5-on-3.
Jonathan Quick made 32 saves for Los Angeles, which had a four-game win streak snapped and failed on a chance to move past Phoenix and into fourth place.
After Kesler had a goal called back because it crossed the line right after the horn sounded to end the first period, Ehrhoff beat the buzzer to end the second frame. Kings defenseman Drew Doughty, caught deep on a rush of his own, hustled back to turn a 3-on-1 rush into a 3-on-2, but ended up screening Quick as Ehrhoff snapped a shot through both of them from the high slot.
The Kings were playing their second game since losing top scorer Anze Kopitar to torn ankle ligaments that required surgery, and their fourth since No. 2 scorer Justin Williams went out with a dislocated shoulder. But Los Angeles outshot the Canucks 11-7 in the first period, and led thanks to a nice play from Doughty.
Doughty was alone at the left side of the net and patiently waited for Luongo to go down before sending a pass across the ice to Clifford at the bottom of the faceoff circle for a quick shot past a diving Luongo.
Sedin tied it with 5 minutes left in the second period, holding and dragging the puck back into the middle on a 2-on-1 with Victor Oreskovich and firing a shot from the slot past Quick’s glove second before being hammered by Doughty as he caught up on the back check. It was the 41st goal of the season for Sedin, who forced Quick into a tough save alone in tight a minute later.
An already physical game featuring plenty of post-whistle pushing and shoving got ugly late. First Kings forward Michael Handzus crashed hard into the boards after an awkward collision with defenseman Aaron Rome. Then 2 minutes later, Clifford hit Tanev, sending both players out of the game.
NOTES: Los Angeles didn’t manage a shot in the third period. … Vancouver D Alex Edler, who hasn’t played since Jan. 24 after having back surgery, and D Andrew Alberts, out since Feb. 14 with a broken wrist, are both skating and could return to practice Friday. D Dan Hamhuis, who missed his second game with a concussion, could also return before the playoffs.