April 23rd, 2024

Loss to L.A. Kings keeps Vancouver Canucks from clinching playoff spot

By Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press on March 25, 2024.

Los Angeles Kings' Mikey Anderson (44), Quinton Byfield (55) and Adrian Kempe, right, celebrate a goal by Anze Kopitar, back left, against Vancouver Canucks goalie Casey DeSmith (29) as Sam Lafferty (18), Filip Hronek (17) and Quinn Hughes (43) look on during second period NHL hockey action in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, March 25, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

VANCOUVER – Anze Kopitar scored and notched an assist as the L.A. Kings ground out a 3-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Monday.

Blake Lizotte and Kevin Fiala also found the back of the net for the Kings (38-22-11), who stretched their win streak to four games.

The Canucks (45-19-8) got goals from Brock Boeser and Sam Lafferty, and 16 saves from Casey DeSmith.

Cam Talbot stopped 21-of-23 shots for the Kings as they opened a four-game Canadian road swing.

The loss snapped a three-game win streak for the Canucks, who remain atop the Western Conference standings, one point up on the Colorado Avalanche and Dallas Stars.

Vancouver could have been the first NHL squad to officially secure their playoff spot with a win.

The Canucks pulled DeSmith in favour of an extra attacker with just over four and a half minutes on the game clock.

The move paid off when Boeser’s shot from the top of the right faceoff circle hit Kopitar’s skate and deflected in past Talbot, cutting the deficit to 3-2 at the 17:06 mark of the third period.

Boeser leads Vancouver with 37 goals on the season.

Canucks coach Rick Tocchet called a 30-second timeout with less than a minute to go. With DeSmith once again out of the net, Vancouver pressed for the tying goal.

The team got a prime opportunity when L.A.’s Drew Doughty was sent to the box for tripping with 21 seconds to go, but the Canucks couldn’t bury a final shot during the stretch of six-on-four hockey.

The Kings took a 3-1 advantage late in the second, scoring twice in less than two minutes.

Kopitar collected his 24th of the season at the 18:20 mark. DeSmith got a piece of the veteran forward’s long blast but couldn’t hang on to the puck, which fell to the crease. Kopitar came around the back of the net and tapped it in to give the visitors a two-goal cushion.

Lizotte restored L.A.’s lead 16:29 into the second on a delayed penalty after Vancouver’s Carson Soucy was clocked for tripping.

With six skaters on the ice, Lizotte uncorked a one timer that hit Canucks defenceman Ian Cole at the side of the net before pinging off each of Soucy’s skates on its way in past DeSmith.

Kopitar got an assist on the play and has multiple points in four straight games, with four goals and five assists across the stretch.

The Kings went 0 for 2 on the power play Monday while the Canucks were 0 for 1.

Vancouver’s third line ground out a tying goal 12:50 into the first.

Lafferty fought off Alex Laferriere along the boards, then muscled his way to the front of the net and popped a silky wrist shot in to level the score at 1-1.

A bad Canucks line change created an odd-man advantage for the Kings midway through the opening frame. With the home side down a player, Pierre-Luc Dubois sent a pass to Fiala in the slot and Fiala fired a shot in past a diving DeSmith to give the Kings a 1-0 lead 7:01 into the game.

It was the left-winger’s 24th goal of the season.

Monday marked the first time in eight games that the Canucks haven’t scored first.

HELPING OUT

Kopitar recorded his 40th assist of the season. This is the 14th time he’s accomplished the feat in his career, a milestone he shares with just one active player – Sidney Crosby.

INS AND OUTS

Canucks centre Elias Lindholm sat out with an undisclosed injury. Tocchet said the Swedish forward is “day to day.” Defenceman Ian Cole returned to Vancouver’s lineup after missing two games for what Tocchet previously called “maintenance.”

ON THE FARM

The Canucks have assigned prospect Jonathan Lekkerimaki to the American Hockey League’s Abbotsford Canucks. The 19-year-old winger is coming off a Swedish Hockey League season that saw him register 19 goals and 12 assists for Orebro HK. Vancouver picked Lekkerimaki 15th overall in the 2022 draft.

UP NEXT

Canucks: Host the Dallas Stars on Thursday.

Kings: Take on the Oilers in Edmonton on Thursday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 25, 2024.

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