VANCOUVER -- The Vancouver Canucks made it look easy on Friday night, but they know the hardest part is yet to come. Mikael Samuelsson and Steve Bernier scored two goals each as the Canucks manhandled the Los Angeles Kings 7-2 on Friday to take a 3-2 lead in their best-of-seven Western Conference quarter-final.
"We knew Game 5 was really big," said Samuelsson, who leads the playoffs with seven goals. "We really wanted to play 60 minutes. "We said in both intermissions we have to keep playing hard. We had a good feeling about today."
The Canuck played with confidence and poise. They killed penalties, blasted five goals past Los Angeles goaltender Jonathan Quick, and laid the body on the Kings.
"This is our best game by far," said Daniel Sedin, who had a goal and an assist. Vancouver can wrap up the series Sunday night in Los Angeles. A Game 7, if needed, would be Tuesday at GM Place. Samuelsson, who won a Stanley Cup with the Detroit Red Wings, said the Canucks can't let their heads swell after the lopsided victory. "They are going to come back hungry," he said. "We are not taking anything for granted. "We haven't won anything. It's the hardest game to win, to finish someone off."
And the Kings promised to be better come Sunday.
"It wasn't a good effort," said sniper Anze Kopitar, who was kept off the scoresheet. "We weren't sharp and that's from the first guy right to the last guy."
Kings' coach Terry Murray was blunt about his team's performance.
"It was a bad loss," he said. "It's a playoff situation where you have to get ready for the next one."
Vancouver's top line of Samuelsson and the Sedin twin battered the Kings for seven points. Henrik Sedin picked up two assists.
Samuelsson has played like the Sedin's lost brother since being moved onto the line in the second period of Game 4 in L.A., which the Canucks won 6-4.
"He shoots a lot of pucks," said Daniel. "He takes the puck and give us time to get open and find holes.
"A lot of times things open up after a shot and that really helps us."
The Canucks, who looked bewildered and hesitant while losing Games 2 and 3, dominated the Kings on this night. Vancouver's biggest confidence boost might have come from killing four of five penalties, including 28 seconds of a two-man advantage late in the second period.
The Kings entered the game having scored nine goals on 16 power plays.
"It was something we needed," said Ryan Kesler. "Once you get a couple of kills in a row you relax."
Pavol Demitra added a goal and two assists while Alexander Edler also scored for Vancouver.
Michal Handzus, with a goal and assist, and Fredrik Modin replied for Los Angeles.
Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo was sharp, stopping 24 shots. One of his biggest saves came in the second period when he shot out his right pad to stop Justin Williams on a 2-on-1.
That brought chants of "Luoooo, Luoooo" from the towel-waving, sellout crowd of 18,810 that watched Vancouver outshoot the Kings 30-26.
Quick was replaced by Erik Ersberg in the second period after allowing four goals on 21 shots, but returned in the third after Ersberg gave up two goals on four shots.
"I would have liked to play a lot better," said Quick. "It wasn't a great team effort. We didn't put our best game on the ice and (now) it's a terrible feeling to have."
It was a physical game that had tempers boiling with plenty of shoving after whistles.
Defenceman Shane O'Brien got into a third-period fight with the Kings' Wayne Simmonds. O'Brien, who is over 40 pounds heavier, brought cheers from the crowd by raising his finger in a No. 1 gesture afterwards.
The showboating angered Murray.
"You don't need to rub it in at the end of the fight, skating around with your hands in the air, acting like the clown that he is," Murray snapped.
Canuck coach Alain Vigneault defended O'Brien.
"Simmonds had been taunting everybody and pushing everybody," said Vigneault. "Finally he dropped the gloves so (O'Brien) fought him. No big deal."
Later, Vancouver's Rick Rypien and Rich Clune fought, with the latter leaving the ice with an apparent injury.
Kesler said winning the series in L.A. won't be easy.
"It's an elimination game," he said. "They are going to come out with their best game of the series.
"We have to match that. It's a tough building to go into."
Vancouver broke open a 2-1 game with a pair of goals in the second period.
Daniel Sedin made it 3-1 when he carried the puck out from behind the Los Angeles net and buried his own rebound behind Quick.
Samuelsson then made it 4-1 when he put a laser over Quick's shoulder.
Bernier opened the scoring at 8:50 of the first, just seconds after the Kings' Ryan Smyth returned to the ice after serving an interference penalty. Vancouver's Kyle Wellwood fired a shot that missed an open net but the puck came off the backboards and Bernier knocked the rebound past Quick.
Handzus took advantage of a poor clearing pass by defenceman Sami Salo to tie the game at 14:24. The big Slovak got the puck behind the net and threw it out in front. The puck bounced off defenceman Christian Ehrhoff's skate and past Luongo.
Edler made it 2-1 Vancouver when he took a short pass from Jannik Hansen and fired a quick shot from close in that surprised Quick.
Notes: Defenceman Andrew Alberts returned to the Canucks' lineup to replace injured Nolan Baumgartner, while Rypien replaced Tanner Glass on the fourth line. ... The victory improved coach Alain Vigneault's playoff win total with Vancouver to 14, moving him into second place. Pat Quinn holds the franchise record with 31 wins. ...On April 23, 2008, Mike Gillis was named the Canucks' 10th GM.