The Los Angeles Kings kicked off a six-game homestand on Saturday night by hosting the Vancouver Canucks. The Canucks were supposed to represent a tough challenge for the newly-in-contention Kings, as Vancouver is solidly in first place in the Northwest Division and was riding a three-game winning streak. The Kings came out with fire in their bellies on New Year's Eve and ended up coasting to a dominating 4-1 win.
Vancouver actually jumped out to an early lead in the game, as Kevin Bieksa scored on a slap shot at 3:06 in the first period. That would prove to be the final time the Canucks would find the net all night. Jonathan Quick returned to fine form, stopping 27 of the 28 Vancouver shots on goal.
Brad Richardson tied the game at 9:13 in the first period on a wrist shot, his third goal of the season. Matt Greene would get a tip-in at 8:20 in the second period and the Kings never looked back. They added another goal in the second period from Anze Kopitar at 13:08. The goal was Kopitar's 11th of the season. Justin Williams added the coup de grace in the third period on a power play tip-in goal.
Just like that, the Kings have started their time at home by leapfrogging the Dallas Stars and the San Jose Sharks to land in first place atop the Pacific Division with 43 points. They'll begin 2012 in the catbird seat, which must feel good for the suddenly-surging Kings.