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Canucks try to slow down surging Kings

by Dan Rosen

KINGS (10-6-2) at CANUCKS (10-5-4)


Last 10: Los Angeles 7-3-0; Vancouver 5-3-2

Season series: This is the second of three meetings between the clubs this season. The Kings beat the Canucks in a shootout, 3-2, on Jan. 28 in Los Angeles. They also play March 23 in Los Angeles.

Big story: The Kings will try to build on their season-high five-game winning streak against the slumping Canucks, who have lost two straight and have just two wins in their past seven games. The Kings have allowed just six goals in their past five games.

Team Scope:

Kings: For five games now the Kings have gotten back to playing the brand of hockey that led them to the Stanley Cup championship last season. Their goaltending has been fantastic and they are getting production from up and down the lineup.

L.A. has outscored the opposition by a combined 17-6 over the past five games and has gotten goals from nine different players. Jeff Carter has scored in all five games and Anze Kopitar has two goals and six assists for eight points in the five games. Mike Richards has assists in each of the past four games.

Jonathan Quick and Jonathan Bernier have combined for a 1.20 goals-against average and .955 save percentage.

"We're putting together a pretty good streak here, and we've got to keep it going," Kopitar said. "We know we had a bit of a slow start and we've got some catching up to do."

Canucks: Vancouver is coming off an 8-3 loss to Detroit on Wednesday. That came after a 4-2 loss to Phoenix.

Worse yet, the Canucks will now begin playing without center Ryan Kesler, who is out with a broken foot. Word is he played six games with the injury. Defenseman Kevin Bieksa has missed the past two games with a groin injury and is questionable for the game Saturday.

Cory Schneider is expected to get the start in goal for the second straight game. He was hard on himself following the 4-2 loss to Phoenix, saying he was sick and tired of playing like an average goalie.

"It's not as if I'm way off," Schneider told reporters after practice Friday. "It's one save a game and it's very doable. I'm very confident I can make that extra save."

Who's hot: Carter has goals in five straight games and Kopitar has strung together three consecutive multi-point games. As for his goalie, Kings coach Darryl Sutter can choose from the red-hot Bernier (.958 save percentage in his last four starts) or Quick (3-0 with a 1.33 GAA in his last three starts).

Injury report: Kings defenseman Alec Martinez returned to the ice for a full team practice Friday for the first time since he last played Feb. 11. He said he's ready to go, but called it a coach's decision. Similarly, Bieksa practice Friday for the first time since he left the game against Nashville on Feb. 22 with a groin injury. He's listed as day-to-day. Kesler is definitely out for the Canucks.

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