The Vancouver Canucks escaped elimination from the playoffs after a spirited comeback against the Los Angeles Kings.
Daniel Sedin returned for the struggling Canucks – as their stuttering power play’s fortunes changed.
Vancouver are familiar with being backed into a corner in the playoffs. In 2009 and 2010, the Canucks were eliminated in the playoffs by the Chicago Black Hawks. Last season, Vancouver appeared to have put all that behind them as they took a 3-0 series lead against the Hawks.
However, the usual panic set in and the Canucks scraped through with a game seven overtime win. The Canucks have a lifeline against Los Angeles – and it is up to the players to grab it with both hands.
With so much quality on their roster, the President’s Trophy winners were due a turnaround.
Jonathan Quick has been integral to the Kings’ dominance throughout the first three games of the series. The Canucks have struggled to beat him, particularly with a man advantage. However, the Canucks scored twice on the power play and got a large chunk of luck on their way to a 3-1 win in game four.
It could quite easily have been curtains for last season’s Stanley Cup runners up. Los Angeles were quick off the mark, and dominated the early stages. Anze Kopitar continued his thrilling start to the post-season with a wicked shot shot catching Corey Schneider off-guard to edge the Kings closer to the next round.
Daniel Sedin may have kept his name off the scoreboard throughout the first forty minutes, but his presence on the ice was giving the Canucks some much-needed stability. With stability comes confidence, and the Canucks’ power play were playing with momentum, sparked by a lucky deflection on an Alex Edler shot – which gave the Canucks a 2-1 lead.
After Schneider made a big save on Dustin Brown’s penalty shot, Daniel was finally involved in the scoring as he helped brother Henrik swipe the puck out of mid-air for Vancouver’s second power play goal and some breathing space.
Vancouver still have an awful lot to do in order to reach the Western Conference semi-finals. Los Angeles have been one of the most impressive units so far, and will visit Rogers Arena in game five with the pressure firmly on the Canucks.
A big question for Alain Vigneault is who to place between the pipes in game five. Roberto Luongo isn’t such an obvious choice given the form Schneider has shown.
If Daniel and Henrik Sedin can re-find the form that saw them dominate once again during the regular season – this series is far from over. But Vancouver have to get it right in the next three games – a big ask, with big pressure and a big commitment required.