Demko, Canucks finish strong to hand Kings 3-2 shootout loss
LOS ANGELES — Elias Pettersson had a power-play goal, Thatcher Demko made 38 saves and the Vancouver Canucks defeated the Los Angeles Kings 3-2 in a shootout Saturday night.
Brock Boeser also scored in regulation for the Canucks, who have won six of seven. J.T. Miller and Quinn Hughes each had two assists, and Demko saved a penalty shot by Adrian Kempe midway through the second period.
“We kind of played better in the third, and you rope-a-dope and you win the game,” Vancouver coach Rick Tocchet said.
Miller and Andrei Kuzmenko converted in the shootout. Demko denied the second and decisive Los Angeles attempt.
Carl Grundstrom and Alex Edler scored for the Kings, who earned one point and moved into a tie with Vegas for first place in the Pacific Division. Joonas Korpisalo made 15 saves.
Los Angeles hasn’t lost in regulation in its past nine games and is 12-2-3 since the All-Star break. But in the shootout, Gabe Vilardi fired over the net and Trevor Moore was stopped after Demko waited him out.
“It’s a tough game for me to describe,” Kings coach Todd McLellan said. “I think we can play that game over again and have a chance at success. … I think we were trying to bear down and it just didn’t go for us tonight.”
The Canucks were outshot 23-6 through two periods but were able to stay in it thanks to Demko’s outstanding play.
“I mean, Demko was incredible tonight,” Tocchet said. “He kept us in the game. LA’s an impressive team, they defended really well, and we didn’t have an answer the first two periods.”
Pettersson buried a shot from the right circle seven seconds into Vancouver’s lone power play of the night to tie it at 2 midway through the third period.
Tocchet was pleased with the character demonstrated by his group once again in a lost season.
“We can’t afford to just, you know, ‘Let’s wait for next year,’” Tocchet said. “These are important games for us. We’re trying to build stuff around here.”
The Kings failed to get a shot off in overtime after managing to get the puck on net three times during two unsuccessful power plays, and it was the latter that drew McLellan’s ire. Injuries to F Kevin Fiala and D Sean Durzi, who rank second and third on the Kings in power-play assists, have sapped effectiveness from both units, but McLellan said those absences should not hinder the basic execution.
“They’re important pieces, and they’re creative, they’re effective, they’re dynamic, both of them in their own way,” McLellan said. “Each of them belongs to a unit, so all of a sudden both units are affected. … Right now it’s looking for something when we should just be playing it.”
GIVE AND TAKE
Edler, who holds the Canucks record for most points by a defenseman, factored in on both goals in the first. His stick struck Boeser’s shot and redirected it off the left post to put Vancouver up midway through the period, but Edler got his first goal against the Canucks with three minutes left to tie it at 1.
Grundstrom continued his excellent play on the fourth line to put the Kings up 2-1 late in the second when he used his skate to redirect Rasmus Kupari’s shot. The assist was the fifth point in eight games for Kupari since returning from a lower-body injury.
NOTES: Korpisalo is 3-0-1 since being acquired from Columbus in a trade on Feb. 28. He has allowed eight goals in that span. … Canucks defenseman Ethan Bear was a plus-1 playing 23:46 in his return after missing eight games because of a facial injury. Hughes was the only Vancouver player to get more ice time than Bear.
Canucks: Play at Anaheim on Sunday night.
Kings: Host the Calgary Flames on Monday night.
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