KINGS (39-25-14) at CANUCKS (45-29-5)
TV: NHLN-US, PRIME, SNP
VANCOUVER -- Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty isn't focused on simply making it back to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Doughty wants home-ice advantage when they open, and he knows that means taking it away from the Vancouver Canucks on Monday (10 p.m. ET).
Los Angeles enters Monday in the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference but is fourth in the Pacific Division, three points behind second-place Vancouver. They can pass the Calgary Flames and move within one point of Vancouver with a regulation win Monday. With one more game remaining than the Canucks and Flames, the defending Stanley Cup champion Kings also would control their own fate.
"We want to get second place in the division, and right now they have it," Doughty said of the Canucks. "Of course you want home ice and it's very much in reaching distance. We just have to win all our games, starting with this one."
The Canucks can clinch a playoff berth with a regulation win Monday coupled with a regulation loss by the Winnipeg Jets against the Minnesota Wild.
To do that they will have to make life more difficult for Kings goalie Jonathan Quick. But it will be interesting to see if the Canucks can get close to the Kings' well-protected crease in the first place.
Vancouver captain Henrik Sedin ended up on top of Quick and on the receiving end of some shots from the Kings goalie in the ensuing scrum during a 4-1 win in Los Angeles on March 21. The Canucks, who have struggled to penetrate the Kings defense down low and score on Quick during the past two seasons, outshot Los Angeles 42-26 in that March 21 win, and said getting to the crease was key.
"I don’t think Henrik meant to do it to be honest with you," said Daniel Sedin. "[Quick] is a top goalie in this league, so whatever you can do to get him off his game, you try to do it. But I don't think hitting him is an option. It is more getting guys in front of the net and for him not to be able to see the puck. That's the most important thing. We talked about getting a lot of shots and driving for those rebounds."
Kings center Jarret Stoll knows preventing that is important. After allowing 10 shots in a 3-1 win against the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday, Stoll said he is confident they can keep the Canucks away from Quick.
"We've got to make sure that doesn't happen," Stoll said. "They did that in L.A. pretty well last time against us, and we want to do that to them as well too. Every team is going to say you have to get pucks and bodies and screens and tips against any great goaltender in the League, and we've got one of them. We’ve also got big, strong guys that will play hard in front of our net and protect our goaltender."
Quick leads NHL goaltenders with 18 penalty minutes this season, 10 more than any other goalie. But if the sight of a helmetless Quick challenging Vancouver goalie Eddie Lack to come past center ice the last time these teams played has other teams thinking they can get under Quick's skin, Stoll said they should think twice.
"To be honest, when he is like that, he is better," Stoll said. "Maybe teams think when they see him like that, 'Oh, we got to him.' But that's how Quick is. He battles and he wants to get in those scrums."
Here are the projected lineups:
Marian Gaborik - Anze Kopitar - Justin Williams
Dwight King - Jeff Carter - Tyler Toffoli
Dustin Brown - Jarret Stoll - Trevor Lewis
Kyle Clifford - Nick Shore - Jordan Nolan
Jake Muzzin - Drew Doughty
Robyn Regehr - Alec Martinez
Brayden McNabb - Matt Greene
Scratched: Jamie McBain, Andy Andreoff, Mike Richards
Injured: Andrej Sekera (lower body)
Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Alexandre Burrows
Chris Higgins - Nick Bonino - Radim Vrbata
Ronalds Kenins - Bo Horvat - Jannik Hansen
Shawn Matthias - Linden Vey - Derek Dorsett
Alexander Edler – Christopher Tanev
Dan Hamhuis - Yannick Weber
Luca Sbisa - Kevin Bieksa
Scratched: Brandon McMillan, Sven Baertschi, Ryan Stanton
Injured: Ryan Miller (knee), Brad Richardson (ankle), Zack Kassian (back)
Status report: Richards will be scratched for the third straight game. … Miller, who sprained his right knee Feb. 22, returned to practice Friday and continues to work with goaltending coach Roland Melanson before and after practicing with the hope of feeling good enough to play one game before the regular season ends. … Richardson and Kassian aren't skating yet, and coach Willie Desjardins said he has no idea when they might return.
Who's hot: Carter had two assists against the Avalanche on Saturday, giving him 10 goals and four assists in his past 17 games. … Vancouver's power play is 8-for-23 during the past nine games after failing to score in the previous five games.