By Allan Dowd

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - The Vancouver Canucks needed an overtime goal from Mikael Samuelsson to put away the Los Angeles Kings 3-2 in the opening game of their NHL series on Thursday.

The Canucks outshot the Kings 39 to 21 in regulation time, but needed some heroics from goaltender Roberto Luongo in the extra period to stay alive before Samuelsson sealed it with his second goal after a Henrik Sedin pass from behind the net.

"That's the sort of thing that is going to rub off on one or two guys," Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said of Samuelsson's game in a see-sawing contest in which neither side could score in the first period.

The Canucks dominated the third period, but were unable to find a winner and were saved from defeat in overtime when Luongo reached behind himself to swipe away a goal-bound puck.

"That's what we need from him and his team mates went down and rewarded him," Vigneault said of Luongo, who has been in patchy form since netminding Canada to a gold medal in the Winter Olympics.

Los Angeles, appearing in their first postseason since 2002, had handled the pressure well, according to coach Terry Murray.

"I think we played good," he told reporters, singling out Jonathan Quick for praise after the goalie turned away 41 shots.

In other postseason action on Thursday, Tomas Plekanec scored an overtime goal to give Montreal a stunning 3-2 upset win away to the Washington Capitals, whose playmaker Alex Ovechkin failed to register even a shot on goalie Jaroslav Halak.

Buffalo captain Craig Rivet took a pass from Tim Kennedy to beat Boston goaltender Tuukka Rask in the second period and give the Sabres a 2-1 win the opening game of that series.

(Editing by Ian Ransom)