LOS ANGELES — When Jonathan Quick rapped his goal stick on his posts as the buzzer sounded, the sellout crowd unleashed 11 years of deferred playoff frenzy on their Kings.
After so many false starts and failures, the long-suffering Kings are on the verge of an unlikely breakthrough.
The mighty Canucks? They're on the brink of collapse.
Quick made 41 saves, Dustin Brown scored on a long rebound with 13:30 to play, and the eighth-seeded Kings pushed Vancouver to the edge of a shocking playoff ouster late Sunday with a 1-0 victory in Game 3 of their Western Conference quarterfinal series.
Brown sparked the Kings with a crushing second-period hit on Vancouver captain Henrik Sedin, and his fourth goal of a stellar series put the Kings one win from their first playoff series victory since 2001.
"We've gone through a lot this year, but we've always battled out and found a way," Brown said. "It's important for us to understand that we can't take it easy now that we have a three-game lead … but it feels great to have an opportunity to close out a series at home."
Game 4 is Wednesday night in Los Angeles, where the Kings have suddenly regained a bit of the glamor that they have not seen since Wayne Gretzky wore the silver and black. Kobe Bryant stuck around after his Lakers went overtime in the afternoon to watch the game with his two daughters, and soccer star David Beckham of the Los Angeles Galaxy watched both the Lakers and Kings games.
After barely making the playoffs and blowing the Pacific Division title in the final week of the regular season, the Kings stunned the defending West champions with two 4-2 victories in Vancouver last week, taking a 2-0 lead in a seven-game series for the first time since their debut season in 1968. Then Los Angeles snapped a five-game playoff losing streak at Staples Center.
Vancouver has lost seven of its past eight postseason games since taking a 2-0 lead in last summer's Stanley Cup final.
"I think you know the stats," Sedin said. "It's not easy, but I think we have the team in here to do it. It's going to turn around, and we all know what can happen. We were there last year. Chicago was one game away from (rallying from an 0-3 first-round series deficit against the Canucks), and we're in the same spot right now."
His twin brother, Daniel Sedin, will be at the next practice in L.A. after missing 12 games with an apparent concussion.
Three of the previous six Presidents' Trophy winners lost their first-round playoff series. But none have been swept.
Canucks coach Alain Vigneault switched goalies for Game 3, benching veteran Roberto Luongo in favor of Schneider's second career playoff start. That made only a slight difference.
"Playing against that team, sometimes you have to be perfect," Schneider said.
From here on, the Canucks certainly need to be.