The Vancouver Canucks prevent the Los Angeles Kings from taking over the sole lead of the Western Conference with a 3-1 victory.
Canucks victory dethrones the Kings
The Vancouver Canucks prevented the Los Angeles Kings from taking over the sole lead of the Western Conference with a 3-1 victory on Monday. Roberto Luongo made 24 saves as the Canucks won their third consecutive game to keep the Kings (21-11-3) tied with San Jose at the top of the conference with 45 points. "We made high-percentage plays," the Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said.
"We waited until they made a few mistakes that we could jump on and extend our lead." Ryan Kesler opened the scoring for Vancouver with a wrist shot 1:04 into the game before Sami Salo and Mason Raymond added goals to help the Canucks extend their winning streak over Los Angeles to five games. Daniel Sedin added an assist for the Canucks (19-14-0) to extend his point scoring streak to seven games.
Alexander Frolov scored and in-form goaltender Jonathan Quick recorded 25 saves for the Kings, who began a four-game away trip with their first regulation loss in nine games. Frolov's goal made it 2-1 after first period goals by the Kings' Kesler and Salo, and Raymond delivered the insurance goal at 14:48 in the third. Los Angeles had their chances to get back into the game but failed to convert any of their five power play opportunities.
"They have a good defensive system and they hold you to not as many scoring chances as you would like," said the deflated Kings goaltender Quick. "You have to take advantage of those opportunities whenever you can." The Kings were looking for their first five-game winning streak since 2006 but retained a share of first place in the conference despite the loss. With the victory, Vancouver drew level with the Dallas Stars in the West.
Elsewhere, Buffalo Sabres maintained their supremacy at the top of the North-East Division as they came from behind to defeat the Montreal Canadiens 4-3, extending their winning streak to four games. A power-play goal from Andrei Kostitsyn put the Canadiens in front on their home ice, but goals from defenceman Andrej Sekera and right-winger Patrick Kaleta in the second period tipped the match towards the Sabres.
Kostitsyn drew Montreal level early in the final period only for Tim Kennedy to make it 3-2, but still the hosts were not finished as Michael Cammalleri levelled it up again. The Sabres emerged victorious for the 20th time this season though thanks to Clarke MacArthur's winning goal. A brace of goals from Kimmo Timonen helped the Philadelphia Flyers upset the form book to win 3-1 at the Boston Bruins, who subsequently lost ground on the Sabres.
The Atlanta Thrashers claimed a 3-2 shoot-out win over the New York Rangers, for whom Marian Gaborik scored his 23rd goal of the season, to move top of the scoring charts. Three goals from Nathan Horton helped the Florida Panthers crush the New York Islanders 7-1 while a Steve Sullivan treble was key to the Nashville Predators' 5-3 success at the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The Toronto Maple Leafs narrowed the gap to North-East Division rivals Ottawa with a 3-2 home win, while the Phoenix Coyotes slipped to a 3-2 loss at Detroit. * With agencies