LA Kings Dustin Brown

Credit: Hockey Royalty

Anze Kopitar said it was his decision to put the “C” on Dustin Brown’s jersey on Thursday.

In the final regular-season game of the year, the LA Kings fell 3-2 in overtime to the Vancouver Canucks, finishing with 99 points. While Anze Kopitar returned to the lineup, it was Dustin Brown who donned the captain’s “C” on his sweater in what was the final regular-season game of his career.

In advance of Thursday’s game, the 37-year-old formally announced his retirement at the conclusion of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

“He told us earlier today, before the pre-game meal,” Alex Iafallo said of when the team learned of Brown’s plans to retire. “He was very emotional about it. He’s had an amazing career. He’s been an incredible guy and an incredible teammate.”

Los Angeles had two power-play opportunities in the opening period, including a four-minute double minor. However, the Kings couldn’t muster anything offensively, although they came out with more purpose than in Wednesday’s game.

Just as he did the previous night, Gabe Vilardi opened the scoring for the Kings, firing a shot above the right circle and through traffic to beat Canucks’ netminder Spencer Martin. It was Vilardi’s second goal and fourth point in two nights.

Less than four minutes later, Adrian Kempe received a pass at center ice and used his speed to take the puck to the net, firing a snap-shot past Martin to make it a 2-0 Kings’ advantage. The goal marked Kempe’s team-leading 35th tally of the year. He also became the first Kings player to hit the 35-goal mark since Anze Kopitar did it in the 2017-18 season.

Cal Petersen made his first start since April 13. While he wasn’t tested much through the first two periods, the Waterloo, Iowa native made a key save in a 2-on-1 situation shortly after Vilardi’s goal.

Into the third period, the Kings found themselves in a 5-on-3 penalty kill for the second consecutive night. While they killed off the initial penalty, Brock Boeser‘s 5-on-4 power-play goal made it a one-goal deficit at the 6:52 mark.

The Kings went 0-for-4 on the power-play but killed off 1-of-2 penalties.

From there, the Canucks continued to push the pace of play, tying the game at two goals apiece with 5:29 left in regulation. Petersen stopped Quinn Hughes’ initial shot from the point, but Alex Chiasson‘s backhanded putback hopped up and over Petersen and into the back of the net. The Kings were outshot 11-5 in the final period of play.

“We didn’t play a real good third period, back-to-back games, made sure everybody got an opportunity to experience a tight game in different situations,” head coach Todd McLellan said of his team’s performance. “I really think our minds were moving forward. We did check well early in the game, the first two periods, but the third wasn’t particularly well played on our behalf, I think we have moved ahead.”

Boeser added the game-winner with 30 seconds remaining in the overtime period. Following the game, the Canucks lined up to give handshakes and hugs to Dustin Brown.

“It’s kind of surreal. You look at his career, it’s a celebration of his career. He took this team to a couple of Stanley Cups. He’s the leader that every team would want on their team. Selfishly, I’m going to miss him a lot,” Anze Kopitar said of his teammate after the game.

The Kings now shift their attention to the Edmonton Oilers, with the first-round matchup of the playoffs beginning on Monday.

(Main photo credit: Hockey Royalty)

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