Brown does the trick for Kings
Had goaltender Roberto Luongo played as poorly in the Olympic finale between Canada and the U.S. as he played Thursday against the Kings, Dustin Brown and Jack Johnson would have won gold medals instead of silver.
They had to be content with excellent efforts against Luongo’s Vancouver Canucks, as Brown recorded his second career hat trick and set up another goal and Johnson contributed two key assists in the Kings’ 8-3 romp.
“They’re definitely going to be in the playoffs and a possible opponent for us, and they kind of had our number,” Brown said after the Kings cut their magic number for clinching a playoff spot to four points while ending a five-game winless streak against Vancouver.
“I have not scored probably as much as I would have liked to this year, but I think I’ve been playing pretty good. This gives you a little hop in your step.”
A big hop, really.
The Kings scored three times in the first period, twice in the second and three times in the third, delighting an appreciative crowd at Staples Center that broke into derisive chants of “Luu-onnn-go” at every opportunity.
The Kings were thoroughly impressive in scoring eight goals for the first time since Jan. 1, 2008. Anze Kopitar had a goal and an assist to reach a career-best 78 points, Alexander Frolov and Jarret Stoll each had a goal and an assist and winger Justin Williams scored his first goal since returning from ankle surgery and first since Dec. 3.
Led by Brown’s career-best four-point performance, seven Kings had multi-point games and 12 had at least one point. Among them was goalie Jonathan Bernier, who earned his first NHL assist on Williams’ goal, the Kings’ seventh.
More important, he won his second successive start, though Coach Terry Murray said Jonathan Quick will return to start the next two games.
“There was a lot of energy and it was a big win for us against Vancouver,” Bernier said.
Frolov started the scoring at 5:26 of the first period by redirecting a Brown pass beyond Luongo’s reach. Kopitar made it 2-0 at 14:01 after Ryan Smyth won the puck in a scrum and got it back to Johnson, whose 60-foot shot bounced off Luongo’s chest. Kopitar beat the out-of-position goalie for his 34th goal this season.
Brown scored the third goal after taking a backhand pass from Johnson and unleashing a 35-foot wrist shot from the inner edge of the right circle at 18:02.
The only negative note for the Kings was an upper-body injury suffered by Jeff Halpern after he was slammed into the boards at 8:03 by Tanner Glass. He didn’t return. The Canucks forward got a charging minor and a fighting major after Matt Greene stepped in to avenge the hit against his teammate.
The Canucks lost winger Alexandre Burrows late in the period after he was hit in the throat by a slap shot taken by Stoll. He later said he had a sore throat but will be fine.
Stoll made it 4-0 at 3:37 of the second period during a power play, converting the rebound of a shot Drew Doughty had taken after making a spectacular move to draw a defender down and out of the play. Kopitar got the second assist.
Brown scored again during a power play, at 9:20, fanning on his shot but getting enough on it for the puck to slide beneath a sprawling Luongo. He finished his hat trick at 3:31 of the third period, after Stoll took a hit to make a play and passed to Brown for a rising wrist shot.
The Canucks scored twice within 39 seconds in the second period, getting goals from Kyle Wellwood and Ryan Kesler. Wellwood scored again in the third, with Luongo still in net to rest Andrew Raycroft to play in Anaheim tonight.
“I don’t think he has many nights like that,” Johnson said of Luongo. “Everyone in here realizes future games are not going to be like this, but hopefully this can get us on a roll and get us into the playoffs.”