VANCOUVER, Canada — Leave it to Mr. Game 7 and a man who has created his own past playoff magic in this arena to lead the Kings out of their road abyss.
It was right wing Justin Williams and center Jarret Stoll scoring goals 53 seconds apart, late in the third period to push the Kings to a come-from-behind 3-2 victory against the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday night at Rogers Arena.
For the Kings, it was just their fifth road win in 19 games and their first road victory since they beat Ottawa on Dec. 11. They lost games at Calgary and Edmonton, in a shootout, and trailed 2-0 in both those losses.
Williams emphasized the importance of the victory for the Kings, who play most of the rest of the month at home.
“Absolutely. This is big for our hockey club,” said Williams, who earned the nickname Mr. Game 7 with his repeated playoff heroics.
“We shot ourselves in the foot being down 2-0 in every game this road trip. It’s tough to come back. It’s tough to slug it out every night. We earned three points on this trip, which isn’t ideal.
“But we showed we can come back, have some resolve.”
The script seemed to be following the usual form on this trip. Vancouver took a 1-0 first-period lead and built a 2-0 margin by 3:39 of the second period, despite being outplayed and outshot by the Kings. The Canucks scored the two goals against goalie Jonathan Quick on nine shots.
Kings forward Dwight King scored on his own rebound at 14:39 of the second period, but the final steps of the comeback did not come until there was 2:07 remaining in the game.
It was nearly too late for the Kings, but they staged an improbable rally as Williams scored on the power play at 17:53 and Stoll at 18:46, at even strength. They both beat Canucks goalie Ryan Miller short side.
Stoll said there had been no feeling of dejection on the bench. “One of these times, we’ve gotta get a bounce. We’ve got to get a break,” he said.
“We deserved this win. We kept going. Every line kept jumping over the boards. Every line kept moving really well, and crisp, just going north, going north.
“Hardly any D-zone coverage. We were getting a lot of shots. It was just a matter of time. Sometimes you lose those games, sometimes you win them. Sometimes you lose games you’re supposed to win. It all comes full circle.”
The goals came on consecutive shots, the 39th and 40th for the Kings. Stoll, in fact, had just got on the ice for teammate Trevor Lewis and was set up by rookie forward Tanner Pearson.
The power play helped the Kings get a point in Edmonton with defenseman Jake Muzzin’s late goal. On Thursday, they tied the score on the power play after Canucks defenseman Ryan Stanton had gone off for hooking at 16:02.
For Williams, it was his ninth goal of the season and first since Dec. 14 at Toronto.
“You really need your power play to answer,” Williams said. “Takes the heat off the big guys to score goals. Shoot the puck at the net and sometimes it goes where you want it to.
“We feel we got what we deserved tonight. We slugged it out tonight and got a late goal and icing on the cake to get another point.”
Kings Coach Darryl Sutter reunited the line of Pearson, Jeff Carter and Tyler Toffoli, and scratched defenseman Brayden McNabb, putting Jamie McBain back in. Sutter had put Pearson-Carter-Toffoli back together after the Kings fell behind in Edmonton on Tuesday.
Stoll’s goal brought back memories of his series-clinching goal in the first round of the playoffs against Vancouver in 2012, the springboard to the Kings’ first Stanley Cup.
He laughed when reminded of that.
“I like this city. It’s a good city,” Stoll said.