Canucks, Kings put winning streaks on the line
Thursday, 03.31.2011 / 8:23 AM
NHL.comKINGS (44-26-6) at CANUCKS (51-17-9)
TV: FS-W (HD), SNET-P (HD)
Los Angeles 8-1-1; Vancouver 9-1-0
After Los Angeles beat Vancouver twice in the regular season's opening week, it would be almost five months before the teams played each other again. They last played on March 5 in Los Angeles, where Daniel Sedin
scored the winner 11:36 into the third period and the Canucks overcame a 33-save performance from Jonathan Quick to top the Kings 3-1.
The Canucks' final five games of the season will be more about getting healthy than accumulating points. They have already clinched home ice throughout the Western Conference playoffs and are two wins away extending that through the Stanley Cup Final, should they get that far. The Kings remain in the thick of a tight playoff push, but are on the verge of clinching a playoff spot and can overtake fourth-place Phoenix with a win.
The Kings, who have won four straight, will face a potential playoff team in each of their remaining six games. They'll do so without leading scorer Anze Kopitar, who broke his ankle against Colorado on March 26 and isn't expected to return this season.
Their first game without Kopitar in the lineup took place Tuesday night in Edmonton. Against the Oilers, Dustin Brown scored two second-period goals and Jonathan Bernier made 32 saves to earn his fourth career shutout.
"I think this was an important game for us, considering everything that has happened in the last week with injuries," Brown said. "Coming into this game, that was the one thing we were concerned about, was how we were going to react to the adversity that we're going to have to go through, and I thought we played a real solid game."
Also riding a four-game winning streak, Vancouver has won 11 of its last 12 and looks to be rounding into form in time for a prolonged playoff run. But the Canucks haven't emerged from that stretch completely unscathed. Checking forward Manny Malhotra
suffered a serious eye injury on March 16, while defenseman Dan Hamhuis
has been out of action with a concussion since colliding with Rick Nash on March 27.
Both players were missing when the Canucks came to Nashville on Tuesday to face the Predators. Vancouver entered the third period that night trailing 1-0, but the Canucks pulled out a 3-1 win thanks primarily to two goals from Alexandre Burrows
, with Henrik and Daniel Sedin
registering assists on both goals.
Brown has 6 points in his current three-game points streak while Ryan Smyth has 4 points in the same span. … For the Canucks, Daniel Sedin
has 19 points in his last 12 games and Ryan Kesler
has 4 points in his last four games.
In addition to Kopitar, the Kings will be missing Justin Williams (shoulder) and Scott Parse (hip surgery). … Malhotra is out for the remainder of the season and Hamhuis is out indefinitely; the Canucks are also without Alexander Edler
(back) and Andrew Alberts
(wrist) while Mikael Samuelsson
(leg) and Tanner Glass
(ribs) are questionable.
With a combined 189 points coming into Thursday night, the Sedin twins have a chance to set a career high for combined points in a season. Their previous high came last season, when the brothers collected 197 points despite Daniel missing 19 games.
The loss of Kopitar has created an opportunity for Trevor Lewis, the Kings' first-round pick in 2006, who has jumped at the opportunity so far. Up until the Kopitar injury, Lewis had 4 points in his previous 44 games. Since his sudden promotion, he has collected 4 points in two games.