LOS ANGELES — The Vancouver Canucks entered Saturday’s game with an eight-game losing streak. The Los Angeles Kings entered with the worst record in the NHL.
Something had to give between the struggling teams.
Canucks rookie Elias Pettersson was the difference.
Pettersson stole a poor Los Angeles pass, went in on a breakaway and wasted no time snapping in a shot for the go-ahead goal as Vancouver end its skid with a 4-2 win over the Kings.
"It feels good, anytime you’re up against it on a streak like that," Canucks coach Travis Green said. "As good as it feels when you’re winning, it’s worse when you’re losing."
The Kings (7-14-1) have known more losing than any team in the NHL. They are also the worst scoring team in the league.
"That was a game we played OK, but not good enough to get the win," Kings interim coach Willie Desjardins said.
Vancouver opened the scoring in the second period on Adam Gaudette’s first career goal. He took a nice feed from Jake Virtanen and fired it past Kings goalie Cal Petersen.
"It feels good to get that monkey off my back," Gaudette said. "It all seemed to happen pretty fast. I couldn’t process it at first."
The Kings answered with the kind of goal they had not seen in some time. Los Angeles ended an 0-for-16 streak on the power play when Drew Doughty drilled a shot through traffic and off Vancouver’s Christopher Tanev for his second goal of the season.
"It was good to see we got one on the power play," Desjardins said. "I think our power play is going to come back."
The Canucks went back up 2-1 with a power-play goal of their own on some bang-bang passing. Pettersson snapped a short pass to Bo Horvat just outside the net. Horvat deflected it to Sam Gagner 6 feet outside the crease. Gagner fired in the puck for his first goal of the season.
"A great play all the way around," Green said. "A good one-touch pass."
The Kings managed to tie it at 2-2 when Matt Luff broke free on a breakaway. Luff faked a backhand to pull Vancouver goalie Jacob Markstrom out and then snapped in the shot behind him. It was his third goal of the season.
"That was good to see," Desjardins said. "He’s a good young player. He has some size and some speed. He made a great move on that goal."
It was left to Pettersson to snap the tie and finally end the drought for Vancouver.
The rookie charged over the red line to steal an ill-conceived pass from the Kings’ Dion Phaneuf.
"That is probably one he’d like to have back," Desjardins said.
Free on a breakaway, Pettersson charged at Petersen and fired it in for his 13th goal of the season.
"I like his game tonight," Green said. "It was a grinding game. All these games, you have to just wait and stick to the plan. You can’t try to cheat to score. He was the right guy."
The Kings had a final power-play opportunity in the last 3 minutes and pulled Petersen in its final minute for a two-man advantage, but Tyler Motte connected on an empty-net goal to secure the win and end the Vancouver skid.
"Our killers have been feeling the heat," Green said. "It’s no secret we’ve been getting scored on. To get the kill at the end was nice for those guys."
Luff’s three goals have come in consecutive game, the longest scoring streak of the season for the Kings. . Pettersson leads all rookies in goals scored. . Virtanen on assisting Gaudette’s first career goal: "You always like to see a player get their first goal and be a part of it. As soon as he touched the puck, I knew. I actually didn’t know it was him. I just saw one of our guys going back door. I was going to shoot it."
Canucks: Switch roles and play host to the Kings on Tuesday.
Kings: Complete a three-game homestand Sunday against Edmonton.