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Brown brings the pain

First he bruised the Vancouver Canucks' captain. Then the Los Angeles Kings' Dustin Brown dealt a crushing blow to the Canucks' playoffs hopes.

Brown delivered a bone-crunching hit on Henrik Sedin that left the Swedish center flat on his back, gasping for air. The blow, sure to make TV highlight reels, changed the game's momentum and caused the Canucks to lose their focus.

In the third period, Brown picked up a gift-wrapped rebound and fired it past Vancouver goaltender Cory Schneider for the only goal in a 1-0 Kings' victory that pushed last year's Stanley Cup finalists to the brink of elimination.

Los Angeles leads the best-of-seven NHL Western Conference quarterfinals 3-0. The Kings can finish off the two-time Presidents' Trophy winners Wednesday night in Game 4.

Brown has haunted the Canucks all series. His four playoff goals equals what the entire Canucks team has scored so far. He helped win Game 2 in Vancouver by scoring two short-handed goals.

"We need him to keep going like that,'' said center Anze Kopitar, who earned an assist on Brown's goal. "That's what he has to do on a daily basis to be a force out there.

"Tonight was probably one of the best games he's played in a long time. We need everybody to play like that.''

Coach Darryl Sutter dished praise on Brown.

"He was awesome again tonight,'' said Sutter. "That's why he's our captain.''

The hit on Sedin came at a time when the Canucks were controlling the game. They were peppering Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick with shots and moving the puck with authority.

"I think it sparked our energy,'' said Brown. "We didn't play as well as we could have in the first period. I think it gave us a lot of energy.''

Brown caught Sedin near the Vancouver bench just as he had released the puck. He drove his shoulder into the Swede's chest, dumping him on the ice like a sack of potatoes. Sedin's head snapped dangerously. He lay stunned, then staggered to his feet like someone whose brain wasn't talking to his legs.

Several skirmishes broke out with Canucks seeking revenge. Vancouver defenseman Kevin Bieksa wrapped up Brown while Alex Burrows tussled with Kopitar. Later, forward Maxim Lapierre took an undisciplined unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

The Twitter universe instantly exploded with Canucks fans screaming foul. No penalty was called. Sedin said he thought it was a clean hit.

"He's a hard player, an elusive player to hit, and one of their top players,'' said Brown. "I just got my chance to finish my check and I did.

"I think they reacted like any team would when one of their better players gets hit like that. It's part of playoff hockey.''

Sedin went to the Vancouver dressing room but soon returned. Not long after the hit he was on the ice for a 2:30 shift, most of it with the puck on his stick.

Vancouver has already lost Daniel Sedin, the team's leading goal scorer during the season, to a concussion. He missed the final nine games of the season and didn't travel with the team to Los Angeles.

Quick had an exceptional night in the Kings' net, stopping 41 shots for his second career playoff shutout. So far this series, Quick has stopped 111 of 115 shots.

"I believe their game plan was to get a lot of bodies to the net, try to take away my eyes,'' said Quick. "They did a pretty good job of that.

"It was a huge team effort. We battled for 60 minutes.''

The Kings have now gone where no Los Angeles hockey team has been before. It's the first time in franchise history Los Angeles has led a series 3-0.

Sutter doesn't expect the Canucks to go quietly.

"The fourth game gets tougher,'' he said. "And that is a fact.''

The Canucks want to avoid becoming only the third Presidents' Trophy winner to be swept out of the playoffs, and the first to suffer that fate in the first round. The Detroit Red Wings lost the 1995 Stanley Cup finals to New Jersey in four games while the Calgary Flames were swept in the second round in 1988 by the Edmonton Oilers.

"We are in a tough position right now,'' Canucks coach Alain Vigneault told a Vancouver radio station afterward. "They have been hard-fought games that could have gone either way.''

Vigneault tried to shake things up by using Schneider in net after Roberto Luongo had started the first two games. Schneider was solid, stopping 19 of 20 shots.

The Canucks played their best game of the series, but it still wasn't good enough.

"We can't be down,'' Henrik Sedin told reporters. "We've got to look at this game as a positive.

"If we keep doing this, we're going to turn it around.''