Penner able to contribute when it matters most

BY foxsports • April 12, 2012

Nothing new of note had happened since then, at least not
through the first 9:51 of Game 1 of Los Angeles’ first-round matchup at
Vancouver on Wednesday. Trailing 1-0 and driving into the offensive
zone on a forecheck, Penner got his stick caught between the legs of a
Canuck, forcing the Kings into an important penalty kill in an effort to
stem the home team’s momentum.

The kill was successful, and
following the early gaffe Penner provided a glimpse of the player who
was so effective around the net with the Anaheim Ducks in their 2007 run
to the Stanley Cup. He hit the Canucks’ defensemen behind their own
net, he backchecked and got his stick on a puck to disrupt an ominous
Chris Tanev scoring chance off an activation from the blueline.

He
also scored the decisive goal of the 4-2 win with 3:14 remaining after
Mike Richards patiently carried the puck across the run of play before
offering a diagonal cross-zone pass to Jeff Carter. The redirection off
his skate was buried by Penner for his second career playoff goal with
L.A.

“The
coaching staff, they’ve been on us for the last two months, and
rightfully so,” Penner said to LA Kings insider. “They’ve been mad at
us, because there’s a lot of potential in this group. We’re not
surprised that we came out and got this one, but we also expect them to
play a great Game 2 and we have to be prepared for that. (Goalie
Roberto) Luongo played great for them.”

One thing the Kings
weren’t prepared for was Vancouver’s generosity. Allowing the Kings a
power play tune-up with two 5-on-3 situations in the first period and a
5- minute major power play in the second, the Canucks allowed L.A. to
become an opportunistic team despite Luongo’s reliably excellent
performance against a team he’s awfully comfortable facing. His 14-9-3
record, 2.22 goals-against average and .921 save percentage against the
Kings are among his best career numbers against any opponent, though
with 38 shots faced and backed by only two goals Wednesday, his window
of error was practically shut.

There’s certainly plenty of real
estate left for Kings postseason memories, and for Penner to truly
emerge as a key Kings playoff contributor such as Todd Elik or Warren
Rychel, he’s going to have to repeat the performance he gave Sunday by
as many games the team plays in the playoffs.

“We earned this
one,” Penner said. “We can’t rest on our laurels now. There’s a lot more
hockey to be played, and we know they’re going to come out even better
in the next game.”


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