If you told the Canucks before the start of their road trip that they would finish with a .500 record, they probably would have been ecstatic. If you asked them now, finishing at .500 might be a bit of a letdown. On Thursday, for the second game in a row, the Canucks had to play comeback kids after spotting the Sharks a pair of one-goal leads but thanks to some timely offence and a goaltender in Ryan Miller who stood on his head, Vancouver managed to emerge with a nail-biting 3-2 victory in one of the toughest buildings to play in the league. The Canucks won't necessarily want to have to play the comeback card again tonight but they will want to keep things close particularly since they're playing at the Staples Center - a building they did not have a lot of success in last season losing all three games they played there. The Canucks, who are already missing Zack Kassian and Tom Sestito, may have to make do without the services of Radim Vrbata. Vrbata left partway through Thursday's game with an apparent lower-body injury but did manage to return and finish the game. Nicklas Jensen was recalled from Utica (AHL) yesterday and could slot into the lineup tonight.
The Kings didn't appear to have a Stanley Cup hangover of any sort in mid-October when they went on their six-game win streak but since then they've fallen on some rough times. Los Angeles comes into this game with just one win in their last six outings which includes four straight losses on a recent road trip before they managed to salvage the end of it with a 3-1 win in Dallas. They're coming off a 2-1 shootout home loss to the Islanders on Thursday. The Kings, who won four of five meetings against the Canucks last season, could find themselves shorthanded tonight. Defenceman Robyn Regehr suffered an undisclosed injury in practice yesterday and the Kings don't have the required cap space to make a call-up meaning that if Regehr can't go, then Los Angeles will be forced to dress just five defencemen. Tonight marks the first game back in Los Angeles for Linden Vey since he was traded to the Canucks in the off-season. With a victory tonight, the Canucks could pull into a tie for first place in the overall league standings with the idle Anaheim Ducks.
Puck drop at 7 pm PT – Live on CBC, TSN 1040, or online at tsn1040.ca.
Regular Season Record
2014.15 Season Series
Keys to the Game
Play 60 minutes. The Canucks may have beaten the Sharks on Thursday but the common theme in the post-game chatter among the players and head coach was they didn't deserve the win and wouldn't have been in a position to do so without a stellar effort from their goaltender. The Canucks won't apologize if their goalie has a great game again tonight, but the players in front need to make life a bit easier for him.
Cancel That 70's Line. So far this season if the Kings aren't getting goals from a member of That 70's Line, then they aren't really getting goals from any other source. The trio of Pearson-Toffoli-Carter has combined for 18 goals. The rest of their team? 13. Clearly the Canucks' defence knows which players to key in on.
Tighten up the PK. As a team that doesn't score much, the Kings can't afford to surrender too many goals. And lately they've been getting burned on their penalty kill. In their first eight games when they won six of eight, their PK was at 85.7 percent efficiency (24-for-28). In their last six games where they've won just one game, they're at 76.9 percent (20-for-26).
By the Numbers
Win percentage for the Canucks in their last eight trips to the Staples Center incl. playoffs (2 wins in 8 games).
Regulation loss in eight home games for the Kings this season (6-1-1).
Game active point streak for Kings forward Mike Richards (1-3-4).
Points (4-2-6) this season for Nicklas Jensen with the Utica Comets in 11 games played.
Straight wins for Ryan Miller. He is one win away from equaling a career high win streak.
Games played by Linden Vey as a member of the Kings. Nine of those games were at the Staples Center.