CANUCKS (7-7-1) at KINGS (7-5-3)
TV: SNET-VAN (HD), FS-W (HD)
Vancouver 5-5-0; Los Angeles 4-4-2
This is the first of four meetings this season. The Canucks beat the Kings twice in regulation last season, while Los Angeles earned a win each in regulation and the shootout.
Los Angeles finally snapped its five-game losing streak with a 4-3 win Tuesday over the Nashville Predators. The Kings will hope to keep that momentum going as they host a Canucks squad that has won three of their last five games. Los Angeles will be without forward Scott Parse
, who was placed on injured reserve Wednesday with a lower-body injury.
As the defender of last season's President's Trophy, expectations were high for the Canucks in 2011-12. But the Northwest Division club has struggled to maintain any consistency in the early going and has yet to piece together a three-game winning streak this season.
If Vancouver can receive a strong, all-round effort against the Kings similar to what it got in Sunday's 6-2 win at Chicago, then things will definitely start to look up. The Canucks received goals from six different players, including a team-record five power-play goals, and also got a solid effort between the pipes from goalie Roberto Luongo
, who made 38 saves for his fifth win of the season.
"We haven't been good enough 5-on-5 to win games," said captain Henrik Sedin
, who tied a career high with 4 points. "But if we play good 5-on-5, our special teams will take care of us most games. It did tonight."
While Los Angeles exploded out the gate with a 6-2-1 record over its first nine games, including a four-game winning streak, it then went on to drop five straight. But a solid showing against Nashville on Tuesday revealed a Kings squad with a spark similar to what they showed to kick off the season.
Four goals from four different players got L.A. off to a good start against an improved Nashville team, and a 13-save effort in the third period from backup goalie Jonathan Bernier
was enough to preserve the victory.
"I felt pretty good," Bernier told lakings.com following the game. "I've been really working hard in practice to get my game at a high level. It's not easy, but obviously to get a two-goal lead helps a little bit."
For Vancouver, Henrik Sedin
has 2 goals and 5 assists over his last five games. … Center Anze Kopitar
has put up points in five of his last seven games for the Kings, amassing 4 goals and 4 assists over that span.
For the Canucks, Alexandre Burrows
(back spasms) and Sami Salo
(lower body) are questionable, while Aaron Rome
(hand) played his first game of the season on Sunday. Mason Raymond
(back), Byron Bitz
(lower body) and Steve Pinizzotto (shoulder) remain on IR. … Parse (lower body) is expected to be the only Kings player out of the lineup on Thursday.
When Vancouver has been able to get its offense clicking, it's been nearly unbeatable. The Canucks' record this season in games where they score at least four goals is 5-1-0.
While a substantial losing streak is to be avoided at all costs, the feeling of redemption after getting that first win is tremendous. And perhaps no one needed that boost more than Kings forward Dustin Penner
, who finally notched 2 assists Tuesday after gaining just one over his first 12 games.
"Whatever (funk) I was in, I'm glad I’m out of it now," Penner told the Kings' official website. "It wasn't for lack of trying, and doing everything outside of the game to get ready. There were a few injuries that didn't help me, and maybe got inside my head, but now everything is feeling great."