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Thursday, April 19, 2012
Daniel Sedin puts Canucks on back

By Jim Morris
Special to ESPN.com

VANCOUVER -- Some players are difference-makers. Their very presence can turn a game around.

Daniel Sedin definitely made a difference when he returned to the Vancouver Canucks' lineup in the do-or-die Game 4 of their NHL first-round series against the Los Angeles Kings.

He played 19:33 in Vancouver's 3-1 win Wednesday night at the Staples Center despite missing almost a month recovering from a concussion. He assisted on brother Henrik's power-play goal and even dished out a hit on Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell.

Maybe more importantly, Daniel reconnected with Henrik.

The twins are a team within a team. Having the brothers together transformed a flat, pathetic power play into something dynamic. Daniel is the dipsy to Henrik's doodle. Missing one is like having Abbott do the Who's On First routine without Costello.

The win kept the Canucks alive, but Vancouver still trails 3-1 in the best-of-seven series. Daniel Sedin's return nudged the Canucks in the right direction, but does he have the broad shoulders to push them into the second round?

Rick Bowness, Vancouver's associate coach, believes he does.

"Danny is a world-class player," Bowness said Thursday after a handful of players, including Daniel Sedin, practiced at Rogers Arena. "When the game is on the line, those guys always seem to be able to raise their game to another level.

Daniel Sedin They are still in control. I like their chances better than ours, but we will take it game by game.

-- Daniel Sedin on winning their series against the Kings

"When they [Daniel and Henrik] are in your lineup, when they played like they did last night, if you're down a goal, if you're down two goals, you know you're still in the game. They are capable of stepping up and making some big plays, scoring huge goals and making some momentum."

Daniel Sedin believes the tide actually shifted in Game 3. Vancouver lost that game 1-0 but played well enough to win. The difference was not being able to score on Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick.

"The guys realized during that game we can do this," Daniel Sedin said. "I knew if we put a good effort on the ice in Game 4, we had a chance of winning."

Daniel Sedin's biggest impact was on the power play. After going 0-for-14 during the first three games, Vancouver scored twice on three man-advantages. The twins were able to cycle the puck in the Los Angeles end, ripping holes in the Kings' defense.

The brothers' magic showed on Henrik's goal, when Daniel did a spinning, behind-the-back pass to the point.

The last time the brothers spent an extended time separated on the ice was when Daniel Sedin missed 18 games with a broken foot in the 2009-10 season. Henrik Sedin had 10 goals and 18 points during that stretch. He went on to win the NHL scoring title and league MVP award.

Like some couples, time apart is a good thing for the Sedins.

"Especially me and Henrik, who play together every day, every practice, every shift," said Daniel Sedin. "I don't want to say it gets boring. You tend to use each other more than you should probably.

"When I was out two years ago, and even now, he [Henrik] worked on his game. He's strong on the puck and beating guys one-on-one. He can be really effective."

Daniel Sedin's return had a ripple effect on the roster. It allowed the coaching staff to restore the other lines. During his absence, the Canucks tried several different combinations on the top line.

"To take someone out of the top line, you have to move some guys around," said Bowness. "It affects all the lines.

"It's important the top nine forwards are healthy and all playing their proper roles."

Daniel Sedin also revealed a little secret about his older brother.

During Wednesday's game, Henrik cuffed Dustin Brown on the head after the Kings' captain was hit in the face by a puck.

"He's very dark," Daniel said with a grin. "That's how I grew up."

Brown told reporters after the game he didn't know who hit him. For Henrik Sedin, the incident draws a blank.

"He didn't remember after the game," said Daniel Sedin. "I don't think he knew what he was doing."

For Daniel Sedin there was no recurrence of concussion symptoms after the game and flight back to Vancouver. A quirk in the scheduling means Game 5 isn't until Sunday. While the three-day break is good for him, he admits the rest of the team would rather be playing.

Kings defenseman Drew Doughty isn't worried the long stretch between games gives the Kings too much time to worry about what might go wrong.

"I don't see it as a dangerous situation," he said after the loss. "It's going to be a fun situation, to be able to close them out, hopefully, in front of their home fans."

Vancouver's hopes of returning to the Stanley Cup finals remain on life support. Of the 167 teams to fall behind 3-0 in the playoffs, only three have come back to win a series.

"They are still in control," said Daniel Sedin. "I like their chances better than ours, but we will take it game by game."