The Vancouver Canucks might be in a more comfortable playoff position if it wasn't for their poor play against the lowly Los Angeles Kings.
The Canucks look to avoid being swept in a season series by the Kings for the first time in 27 years when the teams meet Monday night at Staples Center.
Vancouver (34-24-10) is tied with Nashville for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference as it remains in the mix with Calgary, Colorado and Minnesota for the top spot in the crowded Northwest Division.
|Alex Burrows (right) has a goal and an assist in each of his last two games, both Vancouver wins. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Chuck Stoody)
Though the Canucks are alive in the playoff race, it's not because of their performance against Los Angeles (27-38-5), which has an NHL-worst 59 points and is looking at a fifth consecutive season without a playoff appearance.
The Kings have outscored the Canucks 12-7 in winning the first three games between the teams this season, including a 4-3 victory at Vancouver on Jan. 19 in the most recent meeting. Los Angeles has not swept a season series from the Canucks since winning all four contests in 1980-81.
Vancouver, though, begins its four-game road trip Monday coming off a 4-2 win over St. Louis on Saturday for its second straight victory since losing four in a row.
Alex Burrows had a goal and assist, while Taylor Pyatt and Ryan Kesler each added two assists for the Canucks, who have scored 10 goals in their last two victories after recording just six during their four-game skid.
"We know what's at stake and we got a big two points," said Roberto Luongo, who made 23 saves to record 30 wins for the third straight season. "Everybody is stepping up in this dressing room."
Luongo, however, has posted a 3.58 goals-against average in losing twice to Los Angeles this season after winning three straight against the Kings last season.
Burrows has a goal and an assist in each of his last two games. Known as more of a defensive forward, Burrows has 11 goals in his third NHL season, one more than his previous two in the league.
"Pretty confident out there," said Burrows, who has three goals and an assist in nine career games versus Los Angeles. "But it's all right, I like my role on the checking line and if we can keep winning games, I'll be happy."
If Los Angeles is able to stop the surging Canucks and complete the sweep, it must bounce back from a 5-2 home loss to Montreal on Saturday. Anze Kopitar had a goal and assist, while Rob Blake added a goal for his 700th NHL point in the Kings' sixth loss in their last seven games.
"We were battling hard, but we gave up a couple of easy goals that we shouldn't have, and that's what cost us the game," said Kopitar, who has four points in his last three games, and a goal and two assists against Vancouver this season.
Los Angeles rookie Erik Ersberg made 18 saves Saturday, two days after stopping 40 shots in a 2-0 home win over Ottawa for his first career victory.