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Vancouver Canucks center Ryan Kesler (17) and Los Angeles Kings right wing Dustin Brown (23) collide during first period NHL Stanley Cup playoff hockey action at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, B.C. Wednesday. (JONATHAN HAYWARD/The Canadian Press)
Vancouver Canucks center Ryan Kesler (17) and Los Angeles Kings right wing Dustin Brown (23) collide during first period NHL Stanley Cup playoff hockey action at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, B.C. Wednesday. (JONATHAN HAYWARD/The Canadian Press)

Canucks in an unfamiliar position Add to ...

It has been five years, and eight playoff series, since the Vancouver Canucks lost a Game 1.

In 2007, the Canucks went down 5-1 to Anaheim in Game 1 of the second round and lost the series in five as the Ducks carried on to a Stanley Cup victory.

On Wednesday night in Vancouver, the team that won eight of nine games down the stretch to claim its second consecutive Presidents’ Trophy was outplayed by the Los Angeles Kings, a scrappy eighth seed that many believe is better than their rank, well capable of upending the Canucks.

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Daniel Sedin, where are you?

While Canucks-Kings were tied at two going into the third Wednesday night, that score was hardly reflective of evening’s tenor, and the Kings kept up the press in the third, winning 4-2, the last goal into an empty net.

Penalties were a big factor - and the Canucks’ talk post-game suggested that if they only could have stayed out of the box things would have been a lot different.

Maybe. Here’s the coach, Alain Vigneault: “Instead of attacking, we’re killing penalties.”

And here’s the Canucks’ star of the game, Roberto Luongo, the netminder who played well as he faced a barrage of 39 shots: “When you’re killing that many power plays, it takes a lot of energy, and the momentum away from the team.”

Well....

It is true the Canucks handed the Kings 12:36 of time with the man advantage, a lot of it on bad penalties. But the home team also had five power plays itself and managed... nothing. In the first period, for instance, on two power plays, the Canucks generated, uh, generated might not be the right word: one shot. A power play early in the third- with the chance to take the lead- was the same, nothing. Jonathan Quick, L.A.’s goaltender, hardly had to sweat through most of the night.

The feeble power play was the Canucks’ biggest problem of the past three months and it has extended right into the playoffs. Since early January, a big win against Boston, it’s been a truly awful power play, going 13.3 per cent, which, if stretched over the whole season, would have been dead last in the NHL.

Daniel Sedin, where are you?

This power play performance is from a team that was deadly with the man advantage last season and this year, right until they had vanquished Boston on the road in January.

So now the team is in a very unfamiliar spot, down 1-0. Home-ice advantage has been squandered and practice on Thursday morning at 11:30 a.m. PT is certain to be vigorous. On Monday, and Tuesday, the team held spirited practices, full of various offensive scenarios. Even Wednesday’s game-day skate was conducted at top tilt.

And yet, come Wednesday night, the Canucks came out with less life than the Kings: it wasn’t only penalties that cost the home team.

Daniel Sedin, where are you?

Perhaps there will be an answer to that question, and others, Thursday morning. Game 2 goes Friday night.

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