VANCOUVER — Brock Boeser came into the season with a concrete goal — hit the 30-goal mark for the first time in his NHL career.
Eleven games into his campaign, though, the Vancouver Canucks' right-winger had yet to find the back of the net. That changed on Friday.
Boeser scored twice, helping his team to a 4-1 win over the visiting L.A. Kings.
"Any time you have a goose egg and you're supposed to score and help the team win hockey games and we're not winning hockey games, it weighs on you," he said. "That’s what I get paid to do so I’ve got to make sure I continue to find ways to put the puck in the back of the net and that comes with hard work."
The result was a big one for Vancouver goalie Thatcher Demko, who stopped 37 shots to collect his second win of the season.
Both Boeser and Demko needed a game like Friday night's, said Canucks coach Bruce Boudreau.
"You could see the smile on Brock's face on the first (goal) and the second one is what he does. … So I'm very happy for both of them," he said. "(Demko) has taken a lot of heat this year but he was the one that sort of made the difference in the game and that's great. When you get good goaltending usually, everybody else is playing well too."
Jonathan Quick stopped 21-of-25 shots for the visitors.
"I thought we had some good performances tonight and I thought we had some poor ones," said Kings coach Todd McLellan.
"Sometimes you have to play the game a certain way and it might not be the way you like it. It might be ugly, it may be grinding, it might not be cute, but that's the way you have to play it, and we had some that couldn't accept that or didn't want to, and I believe that cost us."
Boeser put away his second of the night 5:07 into the third period.
The Kings turned the puck over deep in Canucks' territory where Sheldon Dries picked it up and went streaking up the ice. He fired a shot on goal only to see Quick make a stop, but Boeser, stationed at the side of the net, was there to bat the rebound out of the air and in to make it 4-1.
“I've actually been working on tipping pucks a lot after practice so maybe it paid off," Boeser said. "I was just happy to make contact.”
L.A. nearly chipped away at the deficit 2:59 into the third when Anze Kopitar rang a shot off the post. Demko scrambled in the crease to find the puck with teammates Oliver Ekman-Larsson and J.T. Miller also searching in the blue paint.
Some of the saves in the third were "pretty ugly," Demko admitted.
"We knew kind of what it was going to look like in the third there, they're just getting pucks and bodies to the net," he said. "And I thought our (defence) was outstanding and just boxing guys out."
Vancouver regained a two-goal cushion 14:50 into the second thanks to some persistent pressure.
With the Kings hemmed in their own zone, Kuzmenko sent a pass across the slot to Pettersson, who fired a shot past the diving Quick for his second goal of the game.
Sixty-four seconds earlier, L.A. got on the board when Lizotte redirected in Walker's shot from the side of the net to make it 2-1.
“I think we talked lately about if we score or they score, we need to respond no matter what, not sit back," Pettersson said of his team's response. "So I’m happy.”
Walker's cross-checking penalty gave the Canucks a man advantage midway through the frame.
Twenty seconds into the power play, Boeser tipped in Miller's one-timer and put Vancouver up 2-0 with his first goal of the season. The elated right-winger celebrated with an emphatic double fist pump.
The Canucks were 1 for 3 on the power play Friday while L.A. went 0 for 2.
After a scoreless opening frame, the Kings stormed into the second, outshooting the home side 7-0 across the first five minutes.
The Canucks made their first chance count. Pettersson and his linemates broke out on an odd-man rush and the Swedish centre sent a wrist shot past Quick from the top hash marks to open the scoring on Vancouver's first shot of the period.
Boeser has points in six straight games for the Canucks with seven points (two goals, five assists) across the stretch. Miller is on a four-game point streak with three goals and one assist.
INS AND OUTS
Forward Curtis Lazar returned to Vancouver's lineup after missing 10 games with a hand injury. The team sent Will Lockwood back to the American Hockey League's Abbotsford Canucks in response.
The Kings are back in action Saturday, completing a four-game road swing with a visit to the Kraken in Seattle. The Canucks will host the Vegas Golden Knights on Monday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 18, 2022.
Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press