VANCOUVER -- The Vancouver Canucks are focused on improving their structure and building some momentum for next season, and it's been paying off.
Rookie Jared McCann scored the go-ahead goal on a breakaway with 33 seconds left in the second period, and Ryan Miller made 20 of his 40 saves in the third period to help the Canucks hold on for a 3-2 win against the Los Angeles Kings at Rogers Arena on Monday.
Emerson Etem scored with 13 seconds left in the first period, and Jannik Hansen tied it on a 5-on-3 power play for Vancouver (30-36-13), which has won three straight games for the first time this season.
"We're happy with the wins, but we know where we stand," said Miller, who made five of his 20 third-period saves on a Kings power play with four minutes left. "We know it's not good enough and we're on the outside looking in. At least on my part, I feel like there's a foundation to be laid. You've got to play the right way. We've played a little bit better within the system and the structure and we got rewarded for it."
Video: LAK@VAN: Miller kicks out Clifford's backhand
Kyle Clifford and Tyler Toffoli scored, and Jonathan Quick made 21 saves for the Kings (46-28-5), who have lost two straight games, six of their past eight and five in a row on the road.
Los Angeles, which plays at the Calgary Flames on Tuesday, trails the Anaheim Ducks by one point for first place in the Pacific Division with three games left in the regular season, including against Anaheim on Thursday. The Ducks have four games remaining.
"Obviously, you want to finish first, but it's not necessarily about wins and losses either," Kings center Anze Kopitar said. "You want to know that your game is where it needs to be going into the playoffs, and right now we are just short of that."
Clifford put the Kings ahead 2-1 on a 2-on-1 midway through the second period, but Hansen tied it on a one-timer six minutes later, and McCann put the Canucks ahead for the first time after intercepting a Dustin Brown pass inside the Vancouver blue line. The 19-year-old pulled away from Brayden McNabb, moved the puck around Quick's pokecheck and lifted a forehand over the right pad of the sprawling goalie for his first goal in 10 games and second in 36.
Video: 4/4/16: Miller's save on Andreoff in the 3rd
"We want something to build on," said McCann, who scored five goals in his first nine NHL games to keep a roster spot but has four since then. "We're not going to mail the season in. We're looking to play these last games really hard and carry it over into next season."
The Canucks were coming off road victories against the San Jose Sharks and Ducks, but they had failed in their previous eight chances to win three games in a row. Vancouver lost its previous five games at home, part of an 0-8-1 slump that ended with the win in San Jose.
"When we got in that slump, we were kind of down on ourselves," McCann said. "As of late, we've been playing well, we've been keeping it simple, and it's been working out for us."
Captain Henrik Sedin, who set up Hansen's goal, warned not to read too much into the late-season success.
Video: LAK@VAN: H. Sedin sets up Hansen for PPG
"It doesn't mean much," Sedin said. "If you think you've got a good thing going and you're out of [playoffs], you've gotta try to stay away from that a little bit and be careful."
Toffoli opened the scoring with his 30th goal on a rebound six minutes into the first period, but Etem tied it late in the period when Derek Dorsett's shot deflected in off his leg.
"We had veterans out on the ice that should be able to handle that situation," Kings coach Darryl Sutter said of the goals allowed late in the first and second period.
Video: LAK@VAN: Etem deflects Dorsett's one-timer past Quick
It is the first time Toffoli, 23, has reached 30 goals in a season, but he took little joy in that milestone.
"It's whatever," Toffoli said. "Right now, as a team we're not playing the right way."
Sutter singled out some of his best players for the Kings' 2-6-0 record since clinching a playoff berth March 19.
"We got to get the top guys firing, for sure. That's my job and their responsibility," Sutter said. "Our top guys are our captains and our best players, and other than Jeff [Carter] and [Milan Lucic] and [Toffoli], they have played really well, our other tops guys have not played very well since we got a playoff spot."
Video: Miller leads Canucks in 3-2 win over Kings