Thatcher Demko Vancouver Canucks finish strong to defeat Los Angeles Kings

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Elias Pettersson had a power play goal, Thatcher Demko made 38 saves and the Vancouver Canucks beat the Los Angeles Kings 3-2 on penalties on Saturday.

Brock Boeser also scored in regulation for the Canucks, who have won six of seven. JT Miller and Quinn Hughes each had two assists, and Demko saved an Adrian Kempe penalty midway through the second half.

“We played better in the third, and you get nervous and win the game,” Vancouver coach Rick Tocchet said.

Miller and Andrei Kuzmenko converted in the penalty shootout. Demko denied Los Angeles’ decisive second down.

Carl Grundstrom and Alex Edler scored for the Kings, who earned a point and tied Vegas for first place in the Pacific Division. Joonas Korpisalo made 15 saves.

Los Angeles has not lost in regulation in its last nine games and is 12-2-3 since the All-Star break. But in the penalty shootout, Gabe Vilardi shot over the net and Trevor Moore was stopped after Demko waited for him.

“It’s a hard game for me to describe,” Kings coach Todd McLellan said. “I think we can play that game again and have a chance to succeed. … I think we were trying to push and it just didn’t go well tonight.”

The Canucks were outshot 23-6 in two quarters, but were able to hold on thanks to some excellent play from Demko.

“I mean, Demko was amazing tonight,” Tocchet said. “He kept us in the game. Los Angeles is an impressive team, they defended very well and we didn’t have an answer in the first two periods.

Pettersson buried a shot from the right circle seven seconds after Vancouver’s only power play of the night to tie it at 2 midway through the third period.

Tocchet was pleased with the character shown by his group once again in a lost season.

“We can’t afford to just, you know, ‘Let’s wait for next year,’” Tocchet said. “These are important games for us. We’re trying to build things around here.”


The Kings failed to get a shot in overtime after getting the puck into the net three times during two missed power plays, and it was the latter that drew McLellan’s ire. Injuries to F Kevin Fiala and D Sean Durzi, who rank second and third on the Kings in power assists, have hurt the effectiveness of both units, but McLellan said those absences shouldn’t hinder basic execution.

“They are important pieces, and they are creative, effective, dynamic, both in their own way,” McLellan said. “They each belong to a unit, so suddenly both units are affected. … Right now he’s looking for something when we should be playing.”


Edler, who holds the Canucks record for most points by a defenseman, factored in both goals in the first. His stick hit Boeser’s shot and redirected it to the left post to put Vancouver ahead at midterm, but Edler got his first goal against the Canucks with three minutes remaining to tie it at 1.


Grundstrom continued his excellent play on the fourth line to put the Kings up 2-1 late in the second when he used his skate to redirect Rasmus Kupari’s shot. The assist was the fifth point in eight games for Kupari since he returned from a lower-body injury.

NOTES: Korpisalo is 3-0-1 since being acquired from Columbus in a Feb. 28 trade. He has allowed eight goals in that span. … Canucks defenseman Ethan Bear was a plus-1 playing 23:46 in his return after missing eight games with a facial injury. Hughes was the only Vancouver player to get more ice time than Bear.


Canucks: Play in Anaheim on Sunday night.

Reyes: Host the Calgary Flames on Monday night.


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