It might not have been the prettiest effort but, for the first time in the New Year, the Canucks actually enter a game on a winning note after knocking off the Blues by a 2-1 score on Friday night. The Canucks would love for that win three nights ago to serve as a turning point of sorts and propel them to a run in the right direction. In order for that to be the case, however, they'll need to follow up tonight by beating a Kings team that has had their number. Los Angeles has won all three meetings between the clubs so far this season and has already clinched the season series with two more games to go. The Kings have been particularly dominant at the Staples Center against the Canucks out-scoring them by a combined 8-2 in two games played there.
While the games between the teams have been one-sided, the clubs are fairly close when it comes to their position in the standings. The Canucks begin play tonight trailing the Kings by just two points in the standings after the same number of games played. As documented as the Canucks' struggles have been lately, the Kings have also had their fair share of difficulties. They come into this game with just two wins in their last nine outings (2-6-1) and were 3-1 losers to Detroit in their most recent outing on Saturday. The Canucks could get some help on the injury front tonight with both defenceman Alexander Edler and goaltender Roberto Luongo likely being game-time decisions. Jonathan Quick is expected to start in net for the Kings.
Puck drop at 7:30 pm PT - Live on Sportsnet Pacific, The TEAM 1040, or online at teamradio.ca.
Keys to the Game
Cut their breaks. If their last game against the Kings just over a week ago is any indication, it should be open season on the goaltenders. If the same rules apply tonight, then the Canucks might want to make a few trips to visit Jonathan Quick in his crease and not just to congratulate him on making the U.S. Olympic team.
Get bottom-six contribution. Given the fact the Canucks have only scored four goals in three games against the Kings, they won't be too particular about where their offence comes from. That being said, seeing as how their top guns have silenced so far by the Kings, having their bottom-six group come up with some timely contributions like they did on Friday could be the difference between winning and losing.
Dictate the pace. The Kings have not encountered much resistance from the Canucks when they've taken charge on offence and played keep away with the puck. The Kings have out-shot the Canucks by a combined 81-54 in the two games played in Los Angeles and they'll want to keep that trend going tonight.
By the Numbers
Win percentage for the Canucks against Pacific Division rivals (6-5-4).
Win percentage for the Kings against Pacific Division rivals (9-3-1).
Even-strength goal scored by the Canucks against the Kings in three games played this season.
Kings named to Olympic team rosters, including two for Canada (Doughty, Carter).
Shots recorded by the Kings against the Canucks in their last meeting on Jan. 4 – most the Canucks have allowed this season.
Consecutive sellouts for the Kings entering tonight's game counting regular season and playoffs, a franchise record.