On Sunday night, the Vancouver Canucks went into the NHL record books, but it’s not an accomplishment they’re proud of.
After falling to the Los Angeles Kings in five games, the Canucks became just the sixth team to win the Presidents’ Trophy (awarded to the team with the best regular-season record every year since 1985) and lose in the first round of the playoffs. The last team to suffer such a defeat was in 2009-10 when the Washington Capitals lost in seven games to Montreal.
Jarrett Stoll sent a dejected Canucks team to the locker room and an equally despondent fanbase to the exits of Rogers Arena with his game-winner 4:27 into overtime to give the Kings the 2-1 victory in Game 5.
Forward Trevor Lewis made the play happen with a persistent backcheck on defenseman Dan Hamhuis, who wiped out coming out of his own zone. Stoll then picked up the loose puck, skated in on a 2-on-1 and ripped a snap shot over the blocker of Cory Schneider.
For the Kings, not only did they exact revenge on the team that knocked them out of the opening-round of the playoffs two seasons ago, but the team from L.A. also picked up their first playoff series win in over a decade.
“In a word, great,” captain Dustin Brown said of his feelings. “And the way we did it and the team we did it against. Coming in with a lot of people probably not giving us much of a chance….It’s huge. I’ve been here for eight, nine years and this is a pretty good feeling for a lot of guys in here, especially some of the guys that have been here for extended amounts of time.”
For a team that finished the regular season with the 29th-ranked offense, it’s easy to understand why most people would believe the Canucks would run all over them. However, the Kings relied on the two key elements that carried them through the entire season: timely goal scoring and extraordinary goaltending.
Jonathan Quick was once again exceptional in Game 5, stopping 26 shots. The All-Star netminder stopped 164 of 172 shots in the series, a .953 save percentage to go with his ridiculous 1.59 goals-against average.
The Kings will now go on to face the St. Louis Blues in the Western Conference semifinals.
As for the Canucks, well, for a team that is coming off a trip to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final last season to lose in the opening round this year…let’s just say that there will probably be some big changes up in B.C. this offseason.