The Vancouver Canucks (23-12-7) will try to pick up their first win of 2014 tonight when they battle the Los Angeles Kings (25-13-4) in a critical Pacific Division showdown.
As far as New Year's hangovers go, it couldn't have been any worse for the Canucks than their 4-2 home loss on Wednesday to the Lightning – a performance that John Tortorella called their worst of the season. If the Canucks want to avoid drawing the ire of Torts again tonight, they'll need to put forth a much better effort against the Kings and there shouldn't be any shortage of motivation to do so. Vancouver has an opportunity to gain some much-needed ground against a Los Angeles team that sits just one point ahead of them in the standings after the same number of games played.
The Kings are a team that seems to be ripe for the picking at the moment. They've lost five straight games, all in regulation, and are coming off their most lopsided loss of the season – a 5-0 pounding at the hands of the Blues on Thursday. They have not lost six regulation games in a row since December 12 to 26, 2007 when they dropped eight consecutive regulation decisions. The Kings have taken both meetings so far this season against the Canucks including most recently winning a 3-2 overtime decision at Rogers Arena back on November 25. The Canucks will get some good news on the injury front as Roberto Luongo is expected to return tonight after missing the last three games with a lower-body injury. North Vancouver's Martin Jones, who was pulled in the Kings' loss to the Blues, could see his first game action against his hometown team tonight.
Puck drop at 7 pm PT – Live on CBC, THE TEAM 1040, or online at www.teamradio.ca.
KEYS TO THE GAME
1. No Mr. Nice Guy. The Kings weren't very kind to the Canucks back in November winning beating Vancouver twice including embarrassing them 5-1 at the Staples Center on November 9. With Los Angeles struggling right now, the Canucks need to make sure they kick them while they're down.
2. Find their killer instinct. In each of their last two games the Canucks had chances to take multi-goal leads but couldn't find a way to do so. That ended up being their undoing. They need to work to get a lead in this game, but once they do they can't let up.
3. Marty goes back in time. There was a time when it looked like Martin Jones would never lose a game. But since winning eight in a row to begin his career, he's lost three in a row and was hooked for the first time in his career on Thursday. If he gets a chance to get back between the pipes, he'll need to find a way to turn back the clock.
DID YOU KNOW?
North Vancouver-native Martin Jones is just over a month into his NHL career but he's already etched his name into the record books.
Jones began his career posting eight consecutive victories tying the record set back in 1982.83 by Philadelphia's Bob Froese.
-5 – Plus/minus rating for Ryan Kesler in the last two games combined.
1 – Win needed by Roberto Luongo for 250 as a Canuck.
4 – Games without a point for Jason Garrison. He needs 2 to reach 100 for his NHL career.
5.3 – Percent efficiency rate on the power play for the Canucks over their last 7 games (1-for-19).
7 – Shutouts posted by the Kings this season. Their franchise record is 11 set in 2011.12.
1000 – Games coached by Kings' Darryl Sutter in his career including tonight vs. VAN.
IN THE INFIRMARY
For the Canucks…
D Andrew Alberts (head) is day-to-day. D Ryan Stanton (high left ankle sprain), D Alexander Edler (knee), F Alex Burrows (broken jaw) and F Jordan Schroeder (sprained ankle) are on the injured reserve list.
For the Kings…
G Jonathan Quick (strained groin) is on the injured reserve list.
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