VANCOUVER -- Leaders find ways to win big games.
When Los Angeles Kings captain Dustin Brown scored two short-handed goals in a 4-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks on Friday night, he managed a feat that even eluded Wayne Gretzky during his reign in L.A.
"He's been our leader the whole season and he had a big one tonight," said linemate Anze Kopitar.
Center Jarret Stoll used two words to describe Brown: "All world."
"He's a phenomenal player," said Stoll, who scored a power-play goal in the victory. "He comes through in big games. But two shorties is pretty special."
So special that Brown became the first King to score two short-handed goals in a playoff game. The last King to score short-handed in the playoffs was Dave Taylor back in June 1993 when the Kings lost in the Stanley Cup finals to the Montreal Canadiens.
At 6-foot and 204 pounds, Brown isn't the biggest player on the ice or the fastest. In 82 regular-season games, the Ithaca, N.Y., native notched 22 goals but only once short-handed.
"They are huge goals," Brown said while facing a sea of microphones as the Kings quickly packed for the flight home. "It's not too often you are going to see two goals like that.
"Our penalty kill has been a strong point for this team all year."
Brown's goals put the Canucks on their heels in Game 2, but it was the Kings' speed, their hitting and ability to force Vancouver turnovers that resulted in the win. In the third period when Vancouver began applying pressure, goaltender Jonathan Quick made some big saves. Overall, the Kings were outshot 48-27.
The eighth-seeded Kings return to Los Angeles with a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series and have a chance to upset the Canucks, last year's Stanley Cup finalists and the team with the best record in the NHL the past two seasons.
Brown played on a line with Kopitar and Justin Williams that swarmed around the Canucks like bees. They needled, poked and stung. They also made the Canucks pay for their mistakes.
That has been the Kings' style all series. Los Angles has used a furious forecheck that has barely given the Canucks time to think. Colin Fraser was like a pinball, banging out six hits Friday. Jordon Nolan and Mike Richards stapled Canucks defensemen to the end boards.
In the first period, Vancouver's smooth skating defenseman Dan Hamhuis coughed up a puck in his own end when he couldn't step around Brown.
"We want to be aggressive," said Kopitar, whose steal of an ill-advised Alex Edler drop pass set up Brown's first goal.
"If you give those guys time they are going to pick you apart because they have some players that can move the puck. We wanted to get in there and get a couple of bumps on them and create turnovers. Usually off a turnover you get some good scoring chances. We were able to bury a few of them tonight."
Stoll said the constant pounding takes a toll.
"You pressure, pressure, pressure and eventually there is a turnover somewhere," he said.
The Canucks' power play has been horrible in the two losses. Vancouver was 0-5 Friday and is now 0-10 on the series. There were boos from the sellout crowd of 18,890 at Rogers Arena when Vancouver didn't manage a shot on one man advantage.
Captain Henrik Sedin said the Canucks are trying to make something simple very hard.
"It seems like we want to over do things," said Sedin. "There should be an extra man open. Right now we're just not finding him."
Brown's short-handed goal was the Kings' 15th all-time in the playoffs. It's the third time in L.A. playoff history the team scored two short-handed goals in one game.
The series shifts to Los Angeles for games Sunday and Wednesday, and forward Ryan Kesler said it's a chance for the Canucks to get back on track.
"I don't think we look at it as a big hole," he said. "Game 3 is a must win. We win that, then we worry about Game 4.
"I like the way we played tonight five-on-five. All we need to do is clean up the special teams."
The Kings know things aren't going to get any easier.
"This team [Canucks] has dominated the regular season and the majority of the playoffs last year," Brown said. "I'm sure they have faced tougher situations than being down 2-0 in a series."