Kings Defeat Canucks, Hand Vancouver Third Straight Loss, Eliminated From Playoffs


Goalie Joonas Korpisalo #70 of the Los Angeles Kings stops Anthony Beauvillier #72 of the Vancouver Canucks in close as Trevor Moore #12 of the Los Angeles Kings helps defend on the play during the first period. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)

by Kevin Woodley / Independent Correspondent

April 2, 2023

VANCOUVER — Alex Iafallo scored twice, and the Los Angeles Kings clinched a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a 4-1 win against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena on Sunday.

Blake Lizotte and Arthur Kaliyev each had a goal and an assist, and Anze Kopitar had two assists for the Kings (45-22-10), who were coming off a 3-1 win at the Seattle Kraken on Saturday. Joonas Korpisalo made 24 saves.

“I don’t want to say it’s a relief, because we’ve sensed that’s been coming, but once you get that asterisk by your name you can breathe a little bit,” Los Angeles coach Todd McLellan said. “That’s a [heck] of an accomplishment for our group.”

The Kings also moved one point ahead of the Edmonton Oilers for second place in the Pacific Division, one point behind the Vegas Golden Knights.

“A good feeling,” Kopitar said about clinching a berth. “Second year in a row. That’s a sign that the team is trending in the right direction, and we like where we’re at, but we still have five games, so got to focus on those and make sure we’re sharp going into the playoffs.”

Goalie Thatcher Demko #35 of the Vancouver Canucks makes a save against the Los Angeles Kings during the third period of NHL action. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)

Thatcher Demko made 21 saves for the Canucks (34-35-7), who have lost three in a row (0-1-2) and were eliminated from playoff contention when the Winnipeg Jets defeated the New Jersey Devils 6-1 earlier on Sunday. 

“We pretty much knew a couple of games ago it was unrealistic to make it,” Vancouver forward Elias Pettersson said. “But we still play with pride and try to build for next season. So, these games are important. We have six games left to build.”

Brock Boeser put the Canucks ahead 1-0 at 5:56 of the first period on a rebound at the top of the crease.

Iafallo tied it 1-1 at 13:02 during a 4-on-4. He one-timed a cross-ice pass from Kopitar past Demko’s outstretched glove from the right circle.

“Just had to hammer it home,” Iafallo said.

Iafallo put the Kings ahead 2-1 with a power-play goal at 3:24 of the second period. He won a battle with two defenders in the crease and swatted in a rebound after Viktor Arvidsson‘s initial attempt hit the post.

“Good shot by ‘Arvy,’ and I just had to tap it in,” Iafallo said.

Iafallo then prevented the Canucks from tying the game on a power play at 11:07 of the third period, getting his stick on Andrei Kuzmenko‘s rebound attempt from the low slot with Korpisalo out of position. 

“He’s the utility guy,” Kopitar said of Iafallo. “You can use him in every position possible, minus the goalie. He can play up the lineup, down the lineup, PP, PK, he does it all, and it’s obviously great to see him getting rewarded and get his confidence up a little bit, and it’s happening at the right time.”

Kaliyev pushed it to 3-1 at 13:35 of the third, scoring from the left hash marks after his initial shot was blocked by Canucks defenseman Jack Rathbone.

“Dangerous when the puck is on his tape in the offensive zone, and he showed why again today,” McLellan said. “Shoot and follow and put another one in. He’s the one guy in our lineup that can do that often and got rewarded.”

Lizotte shot into an empty net with 49 seconds left for the 4-1 final.

“It just doesn’t feel like we’re that hard to play against. It feels a little soft,” Canucks forward J.T. Miller said. “I don’t know for some reason why we feel like that’s OK as a group. And I know I’m being a little harsh right now, but I don’t like not playing the right way and not being assertive. We have a million reasons to be playing hard right now. It just seems like other teams are having their way with us a little bit.”

Akito Hirose #36 of the Vancouver Canucks skates during warm up before his first NHL game against the Los Angeles Kings. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

NOTES: The Kings played without forward and leading scorer Kevin Fiala (lower body) for the second time in three games. … Kings defenseman Alexander Edler also left with an upper-body injury with 3:37 remaining in the first period. It was the first time since Dec. 11 that Edler, 36, had both games of a back to back. McLellan did not have an update after the game but said, “Obviously, he couldn’t finish tonight so it wasn’t good.”… Pettersson had his NHL career-high 14-game point streak end. … Vancouver defenseman Akito Hirose had one hit and two blocks in 14:01 of ice time in his NHL debut. He signed a one-year, entry-level contract with the Canucks on March 29 following his junior season at Minnesota State University Mankato.

Source and Copyright Holder: National Hockey League, And Is Being Used For News Purpose, As Per Canadian Copyright Act, Section 29.

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