Vancouver, BC, Canada
After struggling offensively all season, Dustin Penner delivered the eventual winner with 3:14 remaining and the Los Angeles Kings stunned the Vancouver Canucks 4-2, in Game 1 of their Western Conference quarterfinal series.
That go-ahead goal that broke a 2-2 tie was the eighth playoff goal in the seven-year career of Penner, who scored seven goals all season.
Penner, a four-time 20 goal scorer and Stanley Cup winner with the Ducks in 2007, struggled to produce a point in his previous nine games.
Mike Richards had a goal and two helpers, including a hand in Penner's winner after he knocked down Canucks defenseman Alex Edler's pass during a clearing attempt inside the blueline.
Richards then dished the puck to Jeff Carter, who returned to the Kings lineup after missing the final five tilts of the regular season with an ankle injury, but the puck deflected off Carter's left skate before bouncing to Penner. He then slipped a shot past Roberto Luongo and silenced the crowd at Rogers Arena.
Dustin Brown's empty netter sealed the win with 18 seconds left and L.A. took away home-ice advantage from the top-seeded Canucks.
The Kings, who slipped to eighth spot in the West after losing their last two-regular-season contests, shrugged off that disappointment and got the jump on the Canucks from the onset.
The Kings, who did not qualify for the playoffs until their 81st game, peppered Luongo and outshot the Presidents' Trophy winners badly in the first period, 13-6. The Canucks were outshot 24-11 through the halfway point of the game.
The resurgent Kings outshot Vancouver 39-26, converted on two of eight power plays and killed all five penalties.
Willie Mitchell also lit the lamp for the Kings, who got a 24-save effort from Jonathan Quick. The L.A. netminder became busy over the final 20 minutes, where he stopped 12 shots as Vancouver rallied.
Alexandre Burrows and Alexander Edler provided the offense for the defending conference champion Canucks, who played without their leading scorer Daniel Sedin for the 10th consecutive game because of a concussion.
Luongo was also sharp in the net, but was beaten twice while Vancouver was shorthanded and was stranded by the bounce of Carter's skate on the winner. He finished with 35 saves in defeat.
The Canucks, coming off their fourth straight Northwest Division title and their second consecutive Presidents' Trophy, are expected to get back in this series on Game 2 Friday night in Vancouver.
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