The 13th road game of the 2012 NHL playoffs might have been the most exciting.
The Los Angeles Kings survived the Vancouver Canucks 2-1 in overtime to advance to the Western Conference semifinals, where they will meet the St. Louis Blues. Jarret Stoll was the big hero of the game, slipping in the game winner off a pass from Trevor Lewis just 4:27 into overtime.
The Canucks had zero margin for error in their quest to return to the finals after falling behind 3-0 in the series and were simply unable to crack the code on Kings goalie Jonathan Quick.
Quick produced yet another outstanding performance, rejecting 26-of-27 shots for an outstanding 96 percent save rate. There is no question he was the MVP of this series, and the Kings enter the second round of the playoffs with the hottest goalie on the planet.
The Kings were unsuccessful in all three of their power plays, and the Canucks were 1-of-4, but the big difference was the flurry of shots the Kings sprayed the moment overtime began. They registered six compared to only two for the Canucks.
The Kings had lost their last two overtime games, while the Canucks had won their last three. Both of those streaks have been axed.
In the last 13 overtime games in the playoffs, the road team has now won 10 of them—quite a bizarre stat.
As for Vancouver, it was an incredibly disappointing follow-up to last season and now the front office has some major issues to address this summer.
The first goal of the game was perfectly set up by the teamwork of the Sedin twins, proving that nobody knows you quite like your own flesh and blood.
This goal is a thing of beauty.
The game-winning goal by Stoll happened because of a lapse by the Canucks defense. They got sloppy with the puck and the Kings took full advantage with a 2-on-1. The pass by Trevor Lewis was outstanding.
The goaltending of Cory Schneider was exceptional. The Kings were incredibly aggressive, and Schneider was rejecting almost everything until OT. As The Daily’s Dan Wolken points out:
The Kings are playing hard and they can't get a puck by Cory Schneider. They could blow this series.— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) April 23, 2012
While the action was certainly filled with big-time hits, there were plenty of flops out there. As Rhys tells us, the Canucks were good enough Sunday night to compete in a completely different sport this summer:
Win or lose tonight, the Canucks will be representing Canada in the London 2012 Olympics, competing in synchronized diving.— Rhys (@RHYSHKSTL) April 23, 2012
Radio legend Jim Rome is already thinking about the potential riots that are about to ensue in Vancouver after losing a deciding game in their own arena:
Playoff hockey is the best.Kings-Canucks tied with 2:30 left. L.A. clinches in their house, a Canuck fan is lighting something on fire.— Jim Rome (@jimrome) April 23, 2012
Wolken wonders if the game-winning goal should have even counted for the Kings:
Kings deserved that series but wow what a no-call that set up the goal. Hamhuis looked like he got hooked down.— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) April 23, 2012
ESPN/Grantland scribe Bill Simmons wonders if the Staples Center can handle three teams competing in the playoffs at the same time, as the Lakers and Clippers will both be participants in the NBA’s second season next week:
Congrats to the Kings fans. Insane Staples Center situation looming - has any arena juggled 3 playoff teams simultaneously before?— Bill Simmons (@sportsguy33) April 23, 2012
Not a bad problem to have, LA fans.
Henrik Sedin: A
With the Canucks enjoying a man advantage in the first period, Sedin was able to sneak behind the defense and received a pin-point pass from Daniel Sedin to drain the shot.
It was very important to set the tone early and Sedin did just that.
What a great pair of brothers eh?
Ryan Kesler: B
He didn’t score in the series, but Kesler played with some sound aggressiveness that led to four blocked shots.
He was very active and was one of the main reasons the Kings were shut out until the third period.
Cory Schneider: B
For the second consecutive game, Schneider was an absolute brick wall, turning away 35-of-37 shots for a 94 percent success rate.
While his performance was good enough to win on most nights, his offense wasn’t able to help him out.
Jonathan Quick: A+
This guy continues to be the main reason the Kings are in such a favorable position. A 96 percent save rate and countless breathtaking stops…he is your MVP and the main reason the Kings are just the sixth team to ever eliminate the Presidents’ Trophy winners in the first round.
Jarret Stoll: A-
Anytime you hit the game-winning goal you deserve to be on the list, but he did play rather inconsistently for long stretches on Sunday night.
All is forgiven after that incredible shot.