VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — Brad Richardson scored with 1:23 left in regulation as the Vancouver Canucks preserved their playoff hopes with a 2-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday night.
Richardson took a pass from linemate Zack Kassian at the side of the goal and beat Jonathan Quick for his 11th of the season to keep the Canucks in the playoff chase, at least mathematically. Alexander Edler had the other goal for Vancouver and Eddie Lack stopped 25 shots in his 18th straight start since the Olympic break.
Slava Voynov scored for Los Angeles and Quick finished with 38 saves for Kings, who are locked into the third seed in the Pacific Division.
Down 1-0 after two periods, the Canucks tied it on the power play after Edler’s seventh of the season just 66 seconds into the third stood up after a video review.
The Vancouver defenseman pinched down to Quick’s crease and saw Daniel Sedin’s saucer pass deflect in off his skate without a distinct motion.
The Canucks had another power play moments later, but some good puck movement failed to create a clear-cut chance on Quick.
The game was played after a controversial few days in Vancouver that included Canucks president and general manager Mike Gillis seeming to criticize the style employed by first-year head coach John Tortorella in a live radio interview.
Gillis said he wanted the club to get back to the high-tempo, puck-possession game that got it to within one victory of the 2011 Stanley Cup under former head coach Alain Vigneault, who was fired in the offseason after a first-round playoff exit.
Tortorella responded to Gillis’ comments by saying that both he and his boss were on the same page in terms of systems coming out of training camp, but added that he was slow to respond to injuries that forced the Canucks into a more conservative style by midseason.
On the ice, the Kings snapped a scoreless tie on a power play with 28 seconds left in the second period on Voynov’s fourth goal of the season on a massive breakdown by the Canucks’ penalty-killing unit.
All four Vancouver players on the ice inexplicably wound up in the corner below the goal line, leaving Voynov wide open in front to bury a feed from Jeff Carter. The goal was Voynov’s first goal since Nov. 14, a span of 59 games.
Vancouver had a couple of chances to grab the lead earlier in the period, with rookie forward Nicklas Jensen chipping a puck into the netting over the Kings’ net after being left alone in front.
The Canucks also had a 4-on-3 power play for 34 seconds that they failed to capitalize on, as well as a great chance for Richardson that the Vancouver forward couldn’t get up and over Quick.
At the other end, Lack made a huge pad stop in the period’s opening minute when he came across to stone Kings forward Tyler Toffoli on a 2-on-1.
The Kings and Canucks have played some physical games in past playoffs and this season, but the opening 20 minutes felt more like an exhibition game.
Vancouver forward Shawn Matthias had the game’s first scoring chance with eight minutes gone in the first when he found himself alone in front the L.A. net but couldn’t beat Quick from in close.
Los Angeles captain Dustin Brown had the best opportunity to break the scoreless deadlock with 30 seconds remaining, but his shot from the faceoff circle rang off the post behind Lack.
NOTES: Kings D Matt Greene left the game in the third period after appearing to suffer a cut to his right foot or leg. Blood had to be cleaned up around Quick’s net during a stoppage in play. … Canucks captain Henrik Sedin returned to the lineup after missing the last four games with a lower-body injury. … Kings D Drew Doughty missed out because of an upper-body injury, thought to be a left shoulder ailment. Andrew Campbell made his NHL debut on the L.A. blue-line in Doughty’s place.
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