Kevin Woodley – NHL.com Correspondent
Dwight King #74 of the Los Angeles Kings is upended by Dan Hamhuis #2 of the Vancouver Canucks during their NHL game at Rogers Arena on March 12, 2015 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Derek Cain / ISN)
(ISN) – VANCOUVER — Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said Thursday morning the remaining three games against the Vancouver Canucks are “pretty much must-win.” The Kings took care of the first one later in the day.
Justin Williams scored and set up Tyler Toffoli’s power-play goal, and Jonathan Quick made 19 saves to lead the Kings to a 4-0 win against the Canucks at Rogers Arena.
Anze Kopitar scored 25 second into the third period and assisted on Marian Gaborik’s empty-net goal with 4:24 left.
Los Angeles, which is 4-0-1 in its past five, moved into the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference.
It was Quick’s fifth shutout this season, the 36th of his career.
The Kings have won all three games against the Canucks this season, and they are one point behind Vancouver for second place in the Pacific Division.
Los Angeles (79 points) is tied with the Calgary Flames for third in the Pacific Division, but the Flames hold the tiebreaker with 33 regulation and overtime wins (ROW) to the Kings’ 31.
Tyler Toffoli #73 of the Los Angeles Kings scores a goal on Eddie Lack #31 of the Vancouver Canucks during their NHL game at Rogers Arena on March 12, 2015 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Derek Cain / ISN)
Goalie Eddie Lack made 15 saves for the Canucks, who are 1-6-1 against Los Angeles over the past two seasons.
Neither team managed a shot on its first power play, but the Kings converted on the first shot of their second opportunity after Canucks forward Derek Dorsett took a slashing penalty away from the play.
Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin started the play with a cross-ice pass from the left point to Williams at the right faceoff dot, and Williams one-touched it back across the ice and through the legs of Canucks defenseman Dan Hamhuis to Toffoli inside the bottom of the left faceoff circle. Toffoli quickly lifted a shot high over the blocker of a sliding Lack for this 20th goal, first in 10 games, with 3:19 left in the first period.
It was the fourth goal in four games for the Kings’ 13th-ranked power play after going 0-for-11 the previous four games, and the third goal given up by the Canucks’ third-ranked penalty kill in nine games.
Tyler Toffoli #73 and Dustin Brown #23 of the Los Angeles Kings celebrate a 1st period goal by Toffoli on Eddie Lack #31 of the Vancouver Canucks during their NHL game at Rogers Arena on March 12, 2015 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Derek Cain / ISN)
Williams doubled the lead 3:59 into the second period, this time as the recipient of a nice backdoor pass from Brayden McNabb. The Kings defenseman was allowed to walk in unchallenged from the point to just below the left faceoff dot, forcing Lack to come out and challenge, before passing to Williams as he emerged on the other side, after circling behind the net, for an unchecked tap-in goal.
The play started with a slow line change that created a 4-on-3, and the Canucks never sorted things out defensively in their end.
It was the fifth time in six games the Canucks fell behind 2-0. They came back in three of the first four, going 2-1-1, but never came close against the Kings, failing to record a shot for half of the third period.
Los Angeles outshot Vancouver 76-35 in the first two games, but the Canucks controlled play for long stretches early in the first period Thursday, outshooting the Kings 9-4. But they couldn’t beat Quick, who robbed Jannik Hansen with his blocker 2:15 into the first period and denied Daniel Sedin alone in the slot five minutes later.
Los Angeles began to take over in the second period, winning battles along the boards and pinning Vancouver in its end for long shifts with an aggressive, hard-hitting forecheck. It paid off early in the third when Hamhuis was pressured by Trevor Lewis in the corner and had his backhand pass intercepted by Kopitar, who held off the Canucks defenseman before beating Lack blocker side from 15 feet.
Vancouver didn’t get a shot the first 10:25 of the third period, when Quick made a great glove stop on Sedin in the high slot.