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Kings, Canucks meet for first time in new Pacific

by Brian Hunter

CANUCKS (11-5-2) at KINGS (10-6-0)


Last 10: Vancouver 6-2-2; Los Angeles 6-4-0

Season series: This is the first of five meetings between the Vancouver Canucks and Los Angeles Kings, new Pacific Division rivals. The Canucks took two of three last season, including a 1-0 win in the most recent matchup on March 23 at Staples Center.

Big story: It's been a little bit more than 18 months since the Kings started their improbable run to the franchise's first Stanley Cup title by upsetting the Canucks in the Western Conference Quarterfinals. Now these opponents may find themselves battling just to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs in a division where the Kings currently sit fifth despite being four games above the .500 mark.

Team Scope:

Canucks: Vancouver appears to be hitting its stride under new coach John Tortorella, The Canucks moved into a three-way tie for second in the Pacific with the San Jose Sharks and Phoenix Coyotes following a 4-2 win Thursday in San Jose.

The Canucks continue to get contributions from up and down the lineup: The Sedins were held scoreless, but Brad Richardson and Mike Santorelli each scored his fifth goal of the season. Chris Higgins' sixth was the game-winner and Zack Kassian added his fourth as the Canucks beat the Sharks for the first time since Jan. 21, 2012.

"I think it feels good because we just beat a pretty good team on home ice," defenseman Kevin Bieksa said. "You guys have made us well aware that we've lost nine in a row to these guys, so to end that little skid and more importantly to get a big two points. We played well in Phoenix, but didn't get that second point. We know we still got two tough games ahead of us on this road trip. This was a big one."

Kings: Jonathan Quick played in his 300th NHL game Thursday. Facing a Buffalo Sabres team that ranks 29th in the League in offense, Quick needed to make only 19 saves to record the 26th shutout of his career. Mike Richards and Anze Kopitar scored power-play goals in the 2-0 win.

"I didn't know it was 300 until they announced it in the second period," Quick said in the Los Angeles Times. "We got two points out of it. It's what we were looking for.

"It was the first time in a while that we didn't give up a power-play goal. So that's a positive, something to build on."

The Kings' penalty-killers had allowed nine goals in six games before Thursday. They'll face a Canucks power-play unit that has also struggled, ranking 26th at 10.3 percent.

Who's hot: Roberto Luongo is 7-1-2 in his past 10 starts for the Canucks; he has allowed two goals or fewer in six straight games. … Kopitar has three goals and two assists during a three-game point streak for the Kings. Richards has two goals and two assists during a three-game point streak.

Injury report: Vancouver forwards Jordan Schroeder (ankle), Jannik Hansen (upper body) and Dale Weise (lower body) are on injured reserve. Forward David Booth is on a conditioning assignment with Utica of the American Hockey League as he makes his way back from a lower-body injury. … Los Angeles forward Jarret Stoll (upper body) is day-to-day. Forward Jeff Carter (lower body) is on injured reserve.

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