Los Angeles Hockey: Manny Malhotra

Kings: Offense muted in 1-0 loss to Canucks

March, 26, 2012
Vancouver Canucks 1, Kings 0

Eight keys to the game:

THE FACTS: The Kings not only blew another chance to move back atop the Pacific Division standings by delivering an unispired performance Monday night at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, they fell out of the top eight in the Western Conference with six games to go.

THE STAT: The Kings came into the game ranked second in the league in hits, but it was the Canucks who set the tone early with their physical play. Vancouver, which entered No. 18 in the league in hits, out-hit the Kings, 14-4, in the first eight minutes, while also taking a 1-0 lead.

TURNING POINT: Before many could get settled into their seats, Kings forward Kyle Clifford drove to the net on a tough angle and his shot was kicked aside by Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo. That started a 2-on-3 rush with Maxime Lapierre handling the puck down the middle. As two Kings converged on Lapierre, he passed the puck to Manny Malhotra on his left. Malhotra had a step on Kings rookie defenseman Slava Voynov, who stuck his stick out, but not before Malhotra released a wrist shot from the left faceoff circle that beat Kings goalie Jonathan Quick over his left shoulder 3:05 into the game. It was the seventh goal of the season for Malhotra, the brother-in-law of Phoenix Suns point guard Steve Nash.

HOT: Clifford couldn’t believe he was called for unsportsmanlike conduct after skidding to a halt during the second period to avoid running into Luongo and showering him with ice. Dustin Penner had a similar reaction after he was called for goalie interference with 3:23 left in the game, although it appeared contact with a Vancouver player forced him into Luongo. The Kings killed both penalties but wasted precious time and energy in the process.

NOT: The Kings offense has reverted back to its old ways. After scoring 37 goals in a 10-game span from Feb. 28 to March 20, they’ve pocketed two in the last three. Kings leading scorer Anze Kopitar, who matched his career-high with goals in four straight games during that stretch, has gone without a point in the last three. He finished with two shots on goal against the Canucks, going 45 minutes without sending a puck at the net during one stretch.

GOOD MOVE: Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell, a Vancouver native who previously played for the Canucks, showed up to play. He was one of the most active offensive players in the first period, hitting the post off a faceoff, and finished with a team-high three blocked shots and four takeaways. Unfortunately, he was on the ice for the only goal.

BAD MOVE: Though Quick has been outstanding for most of the season, he has given up two soft goals in the last two games, both of which turned out to be the difference. He let the go-ahead goal skid through his pads early in the third period Saturday night in a 4-2 loss to the Bruins, and Malhotra’s goal came from a similar distance and angle.

NOTABLE: In the 32 losses by Quick this season, the Kings have scored 39 goals. They are 3-4-1 in 1-0 games … The Canucks have scored 75 goals in the first period, the most in the NHL.

UP NEXT: Wednesday at the Calgary Flames, 6:30 p.m. PT.

Kings: Colin Fraser to debut vs. Canucks

November, 10, 2011
Kings (7-5-3, 17 points) vs. Vancouver Canucks (7-7-1, 15 points) at Staples Center, 7:30 p.m.

Five storylines to track:

1. Welcome mat – Makings his debut for the Kings will be forward Colin Fraser, who hasn't played in nearly eight months after undergoing ankle surgery. Fraser was activated from injured reserve earlier Thursday, replacing Scott Parse (lower-body injury) on the active roster. The Kings acquired Fraser from Edmonton over the summer in exchange for Ryan Smyth, who asked to be traded back to the Oilers, the team he broke into the league with. Don’t expect Fraser to light up the score sheet, as he’ll occupy a fourth-line role, but he could bring some needed energy to the lineup.

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Kings: Doughty's TO changes momentum in 3-1 loss to Canucks

March, 31, 2011
Vancouver Canucks 3, Kings 1

Eight keys to the game:

THE FACTS: The Kings let their chance to move up in the Western Conference standings slip away when Vancouver scored twice in the final five minutes of the second period to erase a 1-0 deficit at Rogers Arena in Vancouver.

THE STAT: After giving up the go-ahead goal with one second remaining in the second period, the Kings did not record a shot on goal in the third to tie a franchise record for fewest shots in a period.

TURNING POINT: The Kings held a 1-0 lead and had the puck in the Vancouver zone with about five minutes left in the second period when a pass by Kings defenseman Drew Doughty was intercepted by Victor Oreskovich, leading to a 2-on-1. Daniel Sedin finished off the break with a blast past Kings goalie Jonathan Quick for his 41st goal of the season.

HOT: Despite missing their top face-off player, Manny Malhotra (eye injury), the Canucks still won 27 of 46 faceoffs. Ryan Kesler led the way, winning 12 of 17 and also scoring the final goal on a 5-on-3 power play.

NOT: Kings left wing Dustin Penner, brought in last month to bolster the top line’s scoring, did not take a shot in 12:58 of ice time. Penner does not have a point in the last seven games and doesn't appear particularly energetic when he's in the game.

GOOD MOVE: Before his costly turnover in the second period, Doughty played a brilliant first period, driving to the net and passing through traffic to rookie Kyle Clifford, who scored with just under seven minutes left for a 1-0 lead.

BAD MOVE: Doughty also played a part in the second goal for the Canucks, driving to the net in the closing seconds but leaving Willie Mitchell alone in the rear to defend the counterattack. Doughty's close-range shot was stuffed, leading to a 3-on-1 in the other direction. Christian Ehrhoff scored with 0.9 showing on the clock, giving Vancouver the lead for good. The buzzer-beater was ironic because Kesler just missed a first-period goal when he poked the puck past the goal line just after the horn sounded.

NOTABLE: Thanks to a 6-0 victory Thursday night by San Jose over ninth-place Dallas, the Kings magic number to clinch a playoff spot still dropped two points to six. The Kings can trim the magic number to two with a regulation win Saturday against the visiting Stars.

UP NEXT: Saturday vs. Dallas at Staples Center, 1 p.m.

Kings: Vancouver still has reason to win

March, 31, 2011
Kings (44-26-6, 94 points) vs. Vancouver Canucks (51-17-9, 111) at Rogers Arena, 7 p.m.

Five storylines to track:

1. Reason to win – Just because the Canucks have clinched the No. 1 playoff seeding in the Western Conference doesn’t mean they don’t have any extra motivation to beat the Kings. Vancouver still needs to clinch its first-ever President’s Trophy, which is awarded to the team with the best overall record at the end of the regular season. The Canucks can clinch with a victory against the Kings and a loss Thursday by East leader Philadelphia against visiting Atlanta.

2. Brown steps up – Nobody was closer to Anze Kopitar than Dustin Brown. They’re the only players remaining from the 2006-07 team. They’ve played on the same line for hundreds of shifts and their lockers sit side by side. So when Kopitar went down with a season-ending ankle injury Saturday against Colorado, it’s no surprise that one of the first players to elevate his game in Kopitar’s absence was Brown, who scored both goals in a 2-0 victory Tuesday in Edmonton.

3. Lewis to the rescue? – Another player who has risen the level of his game almost from the minute Kopitar went down is center Trevor Lewis. The Kings have scored four goals in the four-plus periods since Kopitar was injured and Lewis was involved in every one. Lewis, the 17thoverall pick in 2006, had a goal and an assist in the third period of the 4-1 victory against the Avalanche, and assisted on both of Brown’s goals against the Oilers. Remember, nobody knew who Tom Brady was until Drew Bledsoe got injured.

4. Coming home – Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell grew up on Vancouver Island and was a big fan of the Canucks while growing up. He spent the previous four seasons with Vancouver, twice getting recognized as the team’s top defender. He has been flashing some offense recently too, scoring in two of the last three games to establish a new career high with five goals this season. The Kings are 20 games over .500 with Mitchell in the lineup this season.

5. Vancouver injury news – The Canucks have been hit hard by injuries this season but have held up nicely. The latest injury has been a tough pill to swallow, however. Manny Malhotra, a gritty two-way forward with exceptional face-off skills, was struck in the left eye with the puck March 16 against the Avalanche and underwent successful surgery Tuesday to save the eye. Malhotra, who is married to the sister of Phoenix Suns point guard Steve Nash, will not be back this season.

Ducks: So close to L.A. but far from Vancouver

March, 7, 2011

ANAHEIM -- A return to the top eight was just 60 minutes away.

All the Ducks needed was a victory Sunday evening against the visiting Vancouver Canucks and they would leapfrog over the eighth-place Kings in the Western Conference standings.

But the Vancouver Canucks have a way of putting things in perspective.

A day after winning in Los Angeles, the Canucks backed up that performance with a model of efficiency, deflating Anaheim by scoring in the opening minute of the first and second periods and ending their hopes of winning four in a row by scoring a power-play goal in the third.

Vancouver took just 16 shots in the game but that was enough to secure a workmanlike 3-0 victory at Honda Center.

“We didn’t seem to find any emotional level,” said Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. “I don’t remember us having any extended periods of grind shifts in the zone, and we didn’t do a very good job on the forecheck.”

Everything was in place for the Ducks to move up in the standings.

They were facing a Vancouver team that was playing its second road game in two days. Nevermind the Canucks were 7-1-2 on the season with zero days rest, they would surely be heavy in the legs after killing six penalties the day before, right?

To make conditions ever more favorable, the Canucks decided to suit up second-string goalie Cory Schneider and give Roberto Luongo some rest after securing his 300th career victory against Los Angeles.

Schneider is probably best known for his offensive skills, getting two assists earlier this season against Tampa Bay to tie a franchise record, but he gave a Luongo-type performance while stopping 26 shots for his first career shutout in his 29th career game. The Ducks gave themselves some good looks but just couldn’t find the net.

“We weren’t as crisp as we wanted to be,” said Ducks leading scorer Corey Perry.

Any excitement the home team built coming into the game was dulled when Manny Malhotra scored his 100th career goal 42 seconds into the game on a 2-on-1 breakaway with Jannik Hansen.

“The guy with the puck was right in the middle of the ice, so you can’t kind of cheat or anything,” said Ducks goalkeeper Dan Ellis. “You try to make a read and [Malhotra’s shot] hit the back of my glove instead of the inside of my glove … chalk it up as a good shot.”

And a good sign for the Canucks. Coming into the game, they had won 81% of the games in which they scored first.

The Ducks managed to avoid any further damage the remainder of the period, but 17 seconds into the second, Malhotra and Hansen teamed up again after stealing the puck from Ducks rookie defenseman Cam Fowler, who was also on the ice for Malhotra's first goal.

“Certainly, they had timely goals at the beginning of periods,” said forward Brad Winchester. “In these playoff-type games, it’s all about momentum and it seems like they were able to create momentum at key times.”

Now the Ducks get a couple days of practice before hosting the New York Rangers on Wednesday. With the way the standings shuffle by the day, the Ducks might have more than just Los Angeles to pass by then.