LOS ANGELES — Dustin Brown scored three goals, recording the second hat trick of his National Hockey League career, to lead the Los Angeles Kings to a crucial 8-3 victory over the Vancouver Canucks in front of a sell-out crowd of 18,118 fans at Staples Center on April 1.
Brown also added an assist, giving him a four-point night, a career high. Alexander Frolov, Anze Kopitar and Jarret Stoll scored a goal and contributed an assist each, while Drew Doughty, Jack Johnson and Ryan Smyth tallied two assists each.
Michal Handzus and Justin Williams also scored for the Kings, who jumped out to a 3-0 lead after the first period and extended their lead to 5-0 through the 9:20 mark of the second period.
The Canucks got goals from Kyle Wellwood and Ryan Kesler in the second period, along with another from Wellwood in the third period, but the sluggish Canucks never threatened.
Superstar goaltender Roberto Luongo went all the way in goal for the Canucks, despite a shaky effort in which he allowed eight goals on 29 shots, earning a .724 save percentage for the game.
Luongo stayed in the game despite having an off-night because the Canucks face the Anaheim Ducks on April 2 where goaltender Andrew Raycroft will get the start.
Rookie Jonathan Bernier got the start for the Kings, making 27 saves for this third win in the NHL this season.
The Kings (44-27-6, 94 points) remain in seventh place in the Western Conference. They trail sixth-place Detroit by one point and fifth-place Nashville by two points. They are six points behind fourth-place Phoenix. They lead the eighth-place Colorado Avalanche for the final playoff berth in the conference by five points and the ninth-place Calgary Flames by seven points.
The Kings magic number (points earned by the Kings and points lost by Calgary) is four points. Also, if the Kings win one more game or the Flames lose one more game the Kings would own the tiebreaker over Calgary.
The Flames skate at Colorado on April 2.
Kings goaltender Erik Ersberg, who suffered a back strain and missed the last two games, was cleared to play by team doctors after the game, ending the emergency conditions that Bernier was recalled under. As such, Bernier is likely to be assigned back to the Manchester Monarchs of the American Hockey League (the Kings’ primary minor league affiliate), perhaps as soon as April 2.
- Brown’s first career hat trick was on December 11, 2008, a 6-2 win over the St. Louis Blues at Staples Center.
- The last time the Kings scored eight goals was January 1, 2008, when they defeated the Chicago Blackhawks, 9-2, at Staples Center.
- Kopitar now has 34 goals and 44 assists for 78 points this season, setting new career highs in goals and points. He also played in his 250th straight game (streak started March 21, 2007).
- Bernier is 3-0-0 with the Kings this season. He held a shutout streak of 111:14 before Vancouver scored 12:43 into the second period.
- The Kings are 29-0-0 when leading after two periods. The Buffalo Sabres are the only other undefeated team when leading after two periods with a 28-0-0 record).
- The win broke a five-game losing streak (0-4-1) to Vancouver.
- The franchise record for most wins in one season is 46 (1990-91).
- This year’s Kings team is the fastest to win 44 games.
- Kings head coach Terry Murray is two wins away from most in one season (he’s had 45 wins three times).
Audio Interviews (raw, unedited)
Dustin Brown (5:24)
Jonathan Bernier (3:29)
Terry Murray (11:16)
Game Highlights From NHL Video On YouTube
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