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Canucks try to bounce back vs. Kings

by Brian Compton /

KINGS (14-9-2) at CANUCKS (12-11-0)

Last 10 -- Kings 5-5-0; Canucks 5-5-0.

Season series -- This is the second of four meetings between the teams this season. Mikael Samuelsson scored in regulation and again in the shootout to lead Vancouver to a 2-1 victory on Oct. 29 at the StaplesCenter.

Big story -- Consistency has been a problem for the Canucks this season, but things may be looking up now that Daniel Sedin has returned from injury after missing 18 games. If Vancouver plans on staying in the Northwest Division race, it will need Daniel and twin brother Henrik to provide plenty of offensive firepower.

"Yes, Henrik did get the same number of points, but his game and the way he gets his points, especially the time he spends in the other zone, was not nearly as efficient as it was when his brother is there," Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said. "When they spend so much time in the other zone, the other team is spending energy defending without the puck. … That's part of our game we expect and we need. It's going to be good to have those two guys back."

Team Scope :

Kings -- Los Angeles, still very much in the hunt in the Pacific Division, got its two-game trip to Western Canada off to a solid start with Wednesday's 3-1 win at Edmonton. Wayne Simmonds had a goal and an assist, while Jonathan Quick made 22 saves.

"We had two games at home that we lost where we didn't work as hard as we should have so that was our goal tonight, to come in and play a solid 60 minutes," Simmonds said. "I think we did that and it was a big character win for us."

Canucks -- After scoring 13 goals in its previous two games, Vancouver's offense was nonexistent on Sunday in a 1-0 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks at G.M. Place. The Canucks were done in by goaltender Antti Niemi, who made 30 saves.

"It was one of those games," Daniel Sedin said. "I don't think we had enough guys in front of the net. (Niemi) had an easy game, I think. He saw every shot. That's one thing we've got to work on."

Who's hot -- He was held off the score sheet against the Oilers, but Kings captain Anze Kopitar entered Wednesday as the NHL's leading scorer with 33 points. … Canucks defenseman Christian Ehrhoff leads all Vancouver blueliners with 15 points (5 goals, 10 assists) and tops the club with a plus-11 rating.

Injury report -- Kings forward Ryan Smyth could miss up to a month with an upper-body injury, while defenseman Rob Scuderi (lower body) is day-to-day. Jarrett Stoll missed Wednesday's game with a lower-body injury and remains questionable. … Canucks forward Pavol Demitra (shoulder) resumed skating on Sunday, but his return is unknown. Michael Grabner is out 4-6 weeks with an ankle injury, while Alex Bolduc (shoulder) is out indefinitely.

Stat pack -- Los Angeles has played 25 games, one fewer than Pacific Division-leading San Jose, and has already had two road trips of at least five games, including two journeys to the East Coast.

Puck drop -- The next month won't be easy on the ice or in the dressing room without the presence of Smyth, one of the better leaders in the sport, but the Kings need to keep plugging along and stay in contention for the division until the veteran returns. Another win in a hostile environment such as Vancouver would go a long way for the still relatively-young Kings.

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