The regular season didn't go the way the Kings had hoped. Not at all. But they have a chance to make it right, and they took the first step toward that on Wednesday night in Vancouver.
The Kings, expected to be one of the Western Conference's top teams this season, instead finished eighth and drew the toughest-possible first-round matchup, against the Vancouver Canucks, winners of the President's Trophy. But the Kings did a lot of things right Wednesday and won Game 1 by a score of 4-2.
The Kings didn't play a perfect game, but they won the critical areas. They got two power-play goals and kept the high-powered Vancouver power play off the board. They had a strong forecheck for most of the game and the game-winning goal came from the oft-maligned third line, and oft-maligned winger Dustin Penner, who scored only seven goals in the regular season.
"We played well," center Mike Richards said. "Our power play still needs to be better, because it's going to be a crucial part of the series. It's something we have to work on, but overall I thought we played well. We got pucks in deep. We didn't do anything special except just get the puck in deep and try to make them make mistakes and control the game as much as possible."
The Kings, no doubt, will expect a big push-back from the Canucks. During the regular season, the Canucks lost consecutive games in regulation only five times. Game 2 is Friday night in Vancouver.
"I think we've been in the playoffs a couple times now, and we understand a little better what it's about, and the mindset you need to have," Kings captain Dustin Brown said. "We're playing a team that has dominated this league for the last two years, and we can't have any letdowns."
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