Richardson’s late goal in third lifts Canucks past Kings
Down a goal after two periods with their season on the line, the Vancouver Canucks showed they still have a little fight left.
Brad Richardson scored with 1:23 left in regulation as the Canucks preserved their playoff hopes with a 2-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday night.
Richardson took a pass from linemate Zack Kassian at the side of the goal and beat Jonathan Quick for his 11th of the season to keep the Canucks in the playoff chase, at least mathematically.
"That shows the character of the team," Kassian said. "We could have folded once they scored and packed our bags but we didn’t. We competed and stuck with our game plan."
Alexander Edler scored earlier in the third period for Vancouver and Eddie Lack stopped 25 shots in his 18th straight start since the Olympic break.
The Canucks would have been eliminated from postseason contention with a regulation loss.
"What do we have to lose, right? (Coach John Tortorella) just told us to have fun and go play and what the hell?" Richardson said of what was discussed during the second intermission.
Vancouver still sits six points back of Dallas for the second wild-card spot in the West with just four games left on the schedule.
"We played hard. We played as a team. We stuck together," said Canucks captain Henrik Sedin, who returned after missing four games with an upper body injury. "That’s never been a problem here the last couple weeks and that’s a good feeling."
Slava Voynov scored for Los Angeles and Quick finished with 38 saves for Kings, who are locked into the third seed in the Pacific Division.
Down 1-0 after two periods, the Canucks tied it on the power play after Edler’s seventh of the season just 66 seconds into the third stood up after a video review.
The Canucks had another power play moments later, but some good puck movement failed to create a clear-cut chance on Quick.
"We have to bear down. We took three penalties and they scored on one of them," Kings forward Marian Gaborik said. "We can’t have breakdowns in our zone. We have to get ready and make sure it doesn’t happen. We’re heading into playoffs.
"These game situations can cost us big so we have to figure it out and make sure we bear down and are strong on pucks in front of our net."
The game was played after a controversial few days in Vancouver that included Canucks president and general manager Mike Gillis seeming to criticize the style employed by first-year coach Tortorella in a live radio interview.
Gillis said he wanted the club to get back to the high-tempo, puck-possession game that got it to within one victory of the 2011 Stanley Cup under former head coach Alain Vigneault, who was fired in the offseason after a first-round playoff exit.
Tortorella responded to Gillis’ comments by saying that both he and his boss were on the same page in terms of systems coming out of training camp, but added that he was slow to respond to injuries that forced the Canucks into a more conservative style by midseason.
On the ice, the Kings snapped a scoreless tie on a power play with 28 seconds left in the second period on Voynov’s fourth goal of the season on a massive breakdown by the Canucks’ penalty-killing unit.
All four Vancouver players on the ice inexplicably wound up in the corner below the goal line, leaving Voynov wide open in front to bury a feed from Jeff Carter. The goal was Voynov’s first goal since Nov. 14, a span of 59 games.
"When they scored at the end of the second period, we talked about just gaining the momentum back," Tortorella said. "We just talked about the first few shifts of just trying to gain momentum and not sink because we got scored on late. Then we score a power-play goal. I thought we played well."
The Canucks had a 4-on-3 power play for 34 seconds early in the period that they failed to capitalize on, as well as a great chance for Richardson that the Vancouver forward couldn’t get up and over Quick.
At the other end, Lack made a huge pad stop in the period’s opening minute when he came across to stone Kings forward Tyler Toffoli on a 2-on-1.
Vancouver forward Shawn Matthias had the game’s first scoring chance with eight minutes gone in the first when he found himself alone in front the L.A. net but couldn’t beat Quick from in close.
Los Angeles captain Dustin Brown had the best opportunity to break the scoreless deadlock with 30 seconds remaining, but his shot from the faceoff circle rang off the post behind Lack.
NOTES: Kings D Matt Greene left the game in the third period after appearing to suffer a cut to his right foot or leg. Blood had to be cleaned up around Quick’s net during a stoppage in play. … Kings D Drew Doughty missed out because of an upper-body injury, thought to be a left shoulder ailment. Andrew Campbell made his NHL debut on the L.A. blue-line in Doughty’s place.