The LA Kings dealt the Vancouver Canucks their first defeat in eight games since Bruce Boudreau took over as head coach.

After a disappointing 6-3 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday in their return from what was an extended holiday break thanks to COVID-19, the LA Kings turned in a much better performance on Thursday. They got back into the win column with a 2-1 shootout victory over the Vancouver Canucks.

Goal breakdown

LAK: Lemieux (6), Assists: Wolanin (1)

VAN: Horvat (11), Assists: Miller (24), Pettersson (11)

Stats:

Goals

LAK: 1

VAN: 1

Shots on goal:

LAK: 35

VAN: 18

Hits:

LAK: 23

VAN: 27

Faceoff percentage:

LAK: 53%

VAN: 47%

Power plays:

LAK: 0/1

VAN: 1/1

Shootout:

LAK: Kempe – goal

VAN: Pettersson – no goal

LAK: Iafallo – no goal

VAN: Miller – no goal

LAK: Kopitar – no goal

VAN: Horvat – goal

LAK: Kaliyev – no goal

VAN: Garland – no goal

LAK: Arvidsson – goal

VAN: Pearson – no goal

Three things that stood out:

1. The Kings still need to find a killer instinct

LA took over this game in the second period, outshooting Vancouver 17-3. They only got one goal, though, despite several quality opportunities. Carl Grundström hit a crossbar, Jaroslav Halák made some big saves, and early in the third period, Brendan Lemieux was stopped on a penalty shot.

This game looked all too familiar for Kings fans. They failed to build on their lead even though they were clearly the better team on this night and letting the Canucks hang around eventually came back to bite them. Viktor Arvidsson took a delay of game penalty for shooting the puck over the glass with just under nine minutes to go in the third, and Bo Horvat scored on the ensuing power play to tie the game.

The Kings managed to salvage the second point in the shootout. But they also allowed a Canucks team that is suddenly relevant again in the Pacific Division to get a point. A point they didn’t really deserve in this game and one they may not have gotten had LA just been able to score a second goal.

2. Wolanin is taking advantage of his opportunity

Christian Wolanin didn’t get much opportunity in his first stint with the Kings after they acquired him from the Ottawa Senators for Michael Amadio last season. He played just three games for the team after the trade last year before being lost to the Buffalo Sabres on waivers earlier this season.

But LA later ended up re-claiming Wolanin off waivers from the Sabres, and right now they just might be glad they did. Wolanin finally has gotten an opportunity since Alex Edler was injured and he’s slid in nicely on Edler’s pairing with Matt Roy. Wolanin scored a huge goal in the Kings’ final game before the break against the Washington Capitals to tie things up in the third period. He had a big impact on Thursday’s game, too.

Wolanin made a huge defensive play early in the second period to prevent Vancouver from opening the scoring.

Later in the period, he took the point shot that was deflected by Lemieux to give LA a 1-0 lead.

Speaking of which…

3. Lemieux continues to be an unexpected source of offense

If we told you before the season that Lemieux would be tied for fourth on the team in goals heading into January, even with him having missed 11 games to injury and suspension, you’d probably think this season was going extremely poorly.

But Lemieux came through with yet another timely goal for the Kings on Thursday, his redirection of Wolanin’s shot beating Halák for his sixth goal in just 21 games season.

He also drew a penalty shot in the third period, but couldn’t convert.

Lemieux’s goals have been big, too. All six of them have either tied the game or given the Kings the lead.

Up next for the Kings is a home date with the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday.

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