Originally posted on Fox Sports West  |  Last updated 4/14/12
The solution is simple as the Vancouver Canucks look to avoid an upset in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Coach Alain Vigneault's crew must be better on special teams after suffering a 4-2 loss to the Los Angeles Kings in the second game of the best-of-seven Western Conference quarterfinal series Friday night. Vancouver's playoff survival depends on significant improvement on in both the power-play and penalty-killing departments. Heading into Sunday's third game in Los Angeles, the Canucks find themselves down 2-0 for the first time ever when they have held home-ice advantage in a series. Vancouver enabled Kings captain Dustin Brown to tie an NHL single-game playoff record with two shorthanded goals. Vancouver also gave up a power-play goal as the Kings scored on one of four man-advantage opportunities. On the other hand, the Canucks produced zilch on five power plays that, as Brown's goals indicated, looked downright ugly at times. Brown's first goal, in the dying seconds of the first period, looked like slapstick comedy as he scored over a pile of Vancouver players after a giveaway by Canucks defenseman Alex Edler and stellar save by goaltender Roberto Luongo on Anze Kopitar. As if that was not a lucky break, Brown got an even better one on his second goal, which came on a breakaway after Canucks defenseman Dan Hamhuis fell down while reaching for a pass back to the point. The poor special-teams showing came after the Canucks had vowed to display more discipline and execute better on the power play. But the Canucks continued to engage in scrums after the whistle. Vigneault and his assistants watched video of Game 1 twice in a bid to find answers. They did to a certain extent as the Canucks fired 48 shots on Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick. But as defenseman Sami Salo correctly predicted a day earlier, discipline and special teams were the central themes of the game. Unless the Canucks can start scoring -- and defending -- on the power play, the second straight President's Trophy will mean nothing, and their goal of getting back to the Stanley Cup finals will be just a pipe dream. So the solution is, indeed, simple -- at least on paper or a computer screen. The question now is whether the Canucks can find a way to execute in time. NOTES, QUOTES Two shorthanded goals ties record held by 11 others --The Canucks allowed two shorthanded goals and a power-play marker as they went zero-for-five with the man advantage. Vancouver allowed Kings captain Dustin Brown to tie a record for shorthanded goals in a playoff game with two. Brown became one of 12 players to share the mark. --The underdog Kings, who barely qualified for the playoffs by taking the eighth and final seed, continue to show up the Canucks. You would never know the Canucks finished first overall in the NHL for the second consecutive year. --The Canucks outshot the Kings 48-26. Goaltender Roberto Luongo played another strong game, for the most part, and coach Alain Vigneault refused to talk about him, contending he was not the reason for the loss. But the Canucks need momentum, and one way to get that could be to install backup Cory Schneider between the pipes in Sunday's third game in L.A. QUOTE TO NOTE: "Five on five, we played a real strong game, got the right saves at the right time. Power play again had an opportunity to make a difference tonight -- and it didn't." -- Vancouver Canucks coach Alain Vigneault after his team allowed two shorthanded goals and fell 4-2 to the Los Angeles Kings in the second game of the Western Conference quarterfinals Friday night. ROSTER REPORT PLAYER NOTES: --D Aaron Rome was a healthy scratch. He was replaced by D Keith Ballard, who played his first game since going down with a concussion in early February. --C Andrew Ebbett played his first game of the series and first as a Canuck but struggled in a fourth-line role. Time will tell if he gets back in for Game 3. Ebbett replaced Byron Bitz, who served the first game of a two-game suspension for a hit to the head on Kyle Clifford in Game 1. MEDICAL WATCH: --D Keith Ballard returned to action after being sidelined with a concussion since Feb. 7. He recorded an assist on Vancouver's second goal. --LW Daniel Sedin, recuperating from a concussion suffered March 21, skated on his own Friday morning. But he remains out indefinitely. He had been held off the ice the previous two days after skating twice earlier in the week. The Canucks have denied he suffered a setback in his recovery.
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