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Doughty, Fiala lead Los Angeles Kings to 5-1 road victory over Vancouver Canucks

VANCOUVER — After making things look very easy for most of the season, the Vancouver Canucks are now trying to figure out why winning has become so hard.
Vancouver Canucks' Tyler Myers (57) stops the puck as goaltender Thatcher Demko (35) and Los Angeles Kings' Anze Kopitar (11) watch during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Vancouver, on Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ethan Cairns

VANCOUVER — After making things look very easy for most of the season, the Vancouver Canucks are now trying to figure out why winning has become so hard.

Drew Doughty and Kevin Fiala each had a goal and two assists as the Los Angeles Kings snapped a two-game losing streak with a 5-1 win over the Canucks Thursday night.

It was a game the Kings controlled from the start. L.A. led 2-0 after two periods and any bounce the Canucks got from a Brock Boeser power-play goal early in the third was stymied by the Kings scoring three times in just over 11 minutes.

Vancouver coach Rick Tocchet used the word egregious several times in describing his team’s effort.

“I don’t think we gave them much,” said Tocchet. “It's just the fact what we gave them was egregious.”

The Canucks are 1-5-1 in their last seven games but still lead the Western Conference with a 38-17-7 record.

Defenceman Ian Cole said the Canucks must concentrate on the present, not the impressive 34-11-5 record they compiled coming out of the all-star break.

“Every year there’s ebbs and flows,” said Cole. “Things ere going great early. We were winning games we probably shouldn’t have.

“Now we're not playing well. The only way to get out of these slumps is to work through it and understand maybe there needs to be a little more desperation. All cliches but they all apply.”

 The Kings (30-19-10) were playing their third game in four nights after dropping 4-2 decisions to Edmonton and Calgary.

Anze Kopitar and Trevor Moore both had a goal and an assist. Rookie defenceman Brandt Clarke scored his second career goal while Quinton Byfield also had two assists.

“We played great right from the puck drop,” said Doughty, who has 501 career assists. “I was so proud and so happy with our team’s performance tonight.

“Every single player played well. There wasn’t one dog out there and that’s why we won.”

Doughty was thrilled his 500th assist came on Kopitar’s goal.

“My entire career there is not a guy I’d rather play with than him,” said Doughty. “For it to be on his goal, I think that makes it extra special.”Kings’ goaltender Cam Talbot stopped 22 shots while Thatcher Demko made 15 saves for Vancouver.

“That was definitely the best 60 (minutes) of the year for us from start to finish,” said Talbot. “I can’t think of one fault in our game.

“That’s what it takes to win in this league every night.”

The Kings controlled the flow of the game. They took time and space away from the Canucks and played physical.

Boeser’s power-play goal was just the third in 38 attempts over 12 games for Vancouver.

Tocchet said his team is getting a taste of what to expect for the rest of the season.

“We’re losing those battles,” he said. “Maybe it’s getting harder.

“Guys have to realize that’s the game that’s going to be out there from here all the way to what ever. That game was about winning puck battles and they won more than us.”

The Kings came into the game battling to hang onto a wild-card playoff spot in the West.

Cole said the Canucks must be ready to face more desperate teams.

“We have just as much to fight for as anybody,” he said. “We want to try to secure home-ice, you want to get as high a seed as you can.

“We want to win games. You don’t want to go into the playoffs struggling to find our games. There should not be any reason why teams are more engaged.”

NOTES: Vancouver’s Noah Juulsen got a roar from the crowd with a bone-crunching second-period hit that flattened Alex Laferriere. … Demko started his fifth straight game for the first time this season. … Vancouver managed just three shots on goal in the first, including a power play. …  Canuck defenceman Dakota Joshua missed his seventh consecutive game with an upper-body injury. …  The teams meet three more times before the season ends. …Kings leading scorer Adrian Kempe missed his second straight game and returned to L.A. to evaluate the wrist he injured Monday in Edmonton. … Talbot started his second consecutive game after David Rittich played the previous three

WHAT’S NEXT: The Canucks head out for a three-game road trip against Anaheim on Sunday, L.A. on Tuesday and Las Vegas on Thursday before returning to Vancouver to open a nine-game homestand against Winnipeg on March 9… The Kings return home for games Sunday against New Jersey, the Canucks on Tuesday, Ottawa on Thursday, Dallas on March 9 and the Islanders on March 11.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 29, 2024.

Jim Morris, The Canadian Press

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