Vancouver Canucks coach Alain Vigneault does not criticize officials very often – but he couldn't hold back Saturday night.
Vigneault watched in frustration as a linesman called his club for too many men in overtime, giving the Los Angeles Kings an unexpected power play with Game 2 on the line. Just over a minute later, Anze Kopitar scored the winning goal and, just like that, the Kings evened the best-of-seven series at 1-1.
"It was a wrong call," said Vigneault. "You're allowed five feet and the rule is the player coming on the ice cannot play the puck. Well, yeah, that puck touched one of our players. It touched Kevin Bieksa trying to get off the ice because he was cut.
"We've got two refs and they've both got stripes on their sweaters. They should make the call if they think it's a penalty – not the linesmen. It's unfortunate, but it's the way it is."
Now, the Canucks' coach is looking for a better effort from his special teams as the series moves to Los Angeles on Monday for Game 3. The Kings went two-for-six on the power play and allowed the Canucks to convert just one of three man-advantage opportunities.
"Obviously, their special teams game has been better than ours so far," said Vigneault.
After Vancouver's Steve Bernier opened the scoring on the power play in the first period, the Canucks struggled on their next two extra-man chances. On the other hand, Fredrik Modin's power play marker midway through the second sparked a comeback as the Kings scored two goals 35 seconds apart to overcome a 2-0 first-period deficit.
"I think we built off our five on five (play from Game 1)," said Kings winger Wayne Simmonds, who scored the other L.A. goal in the short timespan.
Ryan Kesler, who led the Canucks offensively with two assists, said the Canucks have to display more discipline when the series resumes in California.
"When you give a team six or seven penalties they're going to capitalize," said Kesler. "We've got to figure it out and stay out of the box."
Kyle Wellwood said the Canucks can control the play, as they did early Saturday when the Kings took two early penalties – if they stay out of the box.
"We know we can control the tempo and the game if we can get our guys on the ice regularly," said Wellwood. "It's obviously frustrating, bad timing and all the penalties.... We weren't able to establish any momentum. I really thought we played the better game when we weren't in the box every couple of minutes.
"I'm not concerned that we can't control the play. It's just a matter of smarter decisions out there and being more confident."
The power plays enabled the Kings to outshoot the Canucks 32-26. Defenceman Sami Salo said Vancouver's extra infractions are putting too much pressure on the club's penalty killers.
"It's not the number of goals that we're giving," said Salo. "It's the number of penalties we're taking."