VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) Dustin Penner scored with 3:14 left in the third period to help the Los Angeles Kings beat the Vancouver Canucks 4-2 in the opener of their Western Conference quarterfinal series Wednesday night.
Penner had gone the last nine games of the regular season without a goal. The winger capitalized after Mike Richards’ pass went off Jeff Carter’s skate, and Penner whipped the puck past Canuck goaltender Roberto Luongo.
Dustin Brown added an empty net goal in the final minute for the final margin. Richards and Willie Mitchell also scored for the Kings, who secured a playoff berth with three games left in the regular season.
Alex Burrows and Alex Edler scored for the Canucks.
The Kings outshot the Canucks 39-26. Los Angeles converted two of eight power plays, while the Canucks were blanked on five.
The Canucks finished first overall in the NHL for the second straight season with a 51-22-9 record, while the Kings finished eighth in the Western Conference with a 40-27-15 mark, but the Kings controlled most of the play in the first two periods.
The Canucks hung in as the score was tied 1-1 after the first period and 2-2 after the second.
Burrows opened the scoring 3:17 into the game. A delay-of-game penalty to Vancouver’s Chris Higgins for shooting the puck over the glass gave the Kings a five-on-three power play for 1:11. But Los Angeles needed just 10 seconds to tie it at 1-1 as Richards beat Luongo with a shot through the legs from a sharp angle.
The goal came after Vancouver’s Sammy Pahlsson won a faceoff in the Canucks end and sent the puck back to teammates. But they promptly gave it away, allowing the Kings to get the puck to Richards.
The Kings had five straight power plays in an 11-minute span covering the first and second periods but could not score.
Vancouver winger Byron Bitz gave them another chance at 12:12 of the second as he received a boarding major and game misconduct for slamming Kyle Clifford face-first into the glass. Clifford stayed on the bench a while afterward, then left the game and did not return.
Mitchell put in a point shot off Pahlsson’s stick with less than a minute to go in the five-minute man-advantage opportunity.
The Canucks drew even with just eight seconds left in the second period as Alex Edler’s point shot hit Brown’s stick, bounced off the ice and then went high past a screened Quick.
Game 2 is Friday night in Vancouver.
Notes: Carter returned to the lineup after missing the last five games of the regular season with a bruised ankle. “It feels fine,” he said after the morning skate. … Daniel Sedin remained out with a concussion. He missed his 10th straight game. The winger did not take part in the morning skate with the team or a second session with extras. Canucks coach Alain Vigneault refused to comment on a Swedish media report that quoted Sedin’s father saying Daniel experienced a headache after skating earlier in the week. … This is the fifth post-season series between the teams. Both clubs have won two series. The Canucks prevailed in 2010 and 1982 en route to the Stanley Cup finals. The Kings ousted Vancouver in 1993 and 1991. … Los Angeles has four Stanley Cup winners on its roster. The Canucks have one – Pahlsson (Anaheim, 2007).