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Kings go for season sweep of Canucks

by Tal Pinchevsky

KINGS (45-27-6) at CANUCKS (34-32-11)


Last 10: Los Angeles 7-3-0; Vancouver 5-4-1

Season series: The Los Angeles Kings will try to complete a season sweep of the Vancouver Canucks. They won all three games in Los Angeles by a combined score of 9-2 and beat Vancouver 3-2 in overtime at Rogers Arena on Nov. 25.

Big story: The Kings' position in the Stanley Cup Playoffs is sealed. No matter what, they will finish third in the Pacific Division and face off against either the San Jose Sharks or Anaheim Ducks in the first round. The Canucks' spot in the postseason is far from assured. Entering play Friday, they sat six points behind the Dallas Stars for the Western Conference's second wild-card spot with six games remaining. Dallas also holds a game in hand.

Team Scope:

Kings: Since losing three straight in mid-March, the Kings have been among the NHL's hottest teams. They won seven of eight before losing 2-1 to the San Jose Sharks on Thursday. Leading 1-0 after 20 minutes, the Kings gave up two goals in the second period and lost 2-1 to drop their record to 22-5-2 when leading after the first period.

The Kings traveled to Vancouver on Friday, but their main concern was the status of defenseman Drew Doughty, who left the game in San Jose after appearing to injure his shoulder in a collision with Tyler Kennedy. Doughty traveled with the team, indicating that the injury is not serious. He did not take part in a brief optional practice Friday afternoon, and had his left shoulder wrapped in ice in the dressing room. However, coach Darryl Sutter left open the possibility that Doughty might be ready.

"He might play tomorrow," Sutter said.

Even if he's not ready, the Kings have plenty of depth on defense.

"Obviously it's too bad, but we have lot of guys that can step up here and kind of play some more minutes and help the team. That's what I think," defenseman Jake Muzzin said.

Canucks: Vancouver could still qualify for the postseason, but losing three straight games doesn't bode well for the Canucks' chances of leapfrogging the Stars and Phoenix Coyotes for the West's final playoff spot. They salvaged a point on March 27 by scoring late to tie the game against the Colorado Avalanche before losing 3-2 in overtime. But any positives were undone by consecutive home losses to the Ducks and New York Rangers by a combined score of 8-2.

Captain Henrik Sedin has missed the past four games with a leg injury but Vancouver coach John Tortorella indicated after practice Friday that Sedin should return against the Kings. The Canucks could use their top center, who collected five points, all assists, in three games before his injury. Sedin and his brother, Daniel, have combined for two goals since Jan. 1.

"We're starting to get back to playing a lot better but we've still been fighting a lot more injuries than we've ever had since I've been here," Henrik Sedin said Friday.

Who's hot: Kings defenseman Alec Martinez has seven goals and 15 points in his past 17 games. Center Anze Kopitar has three goals and six points in his past five games, and forward Marian Gaborik has six points in his past six games. … Daniel Sedin has three points in his past four games and forward Zack Kassian has seven points in five games.

Injury report: Doughty (upper body) is questionable, as is Kings forward Dwight King (undisclosed). … For the Canucks, forward Mike Santorelli (shoulder surgery) and defenseman Andrew Alberts (concussion) are on injured reserve. Defenseman Christopher Tanev (hand) is out.

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