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Luongo will return when Canucks visit Kings

by Mike Battaglino

CANUCKS (23-12-7) at KINGS (25-13-4)


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

Season series: The Los Angeles Kings defeated the Vancouver Canucks twice in November. Anze Kopitar's overtime goal decided the most-recent, 3-2 in Vancouver on Nov. 25, a game the Kings trailed with less than three minutes to go, and one when they were outshot 39-22.

Big story: Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo will return from a lower-body injury and start the weekend road set against the Kings on Saturday; it continues against the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday.

"They're a big test for our group on back-to-back nights," Luongo told the Canucks website Friday. "They're divisional opponents, we know how a lot of those games go, they're important games, they're teams that we're going to face in the playoffs probably, or hopefully. Those are games that you want to make sure that you establish something good, in their building especially."

Team Scope:

Canucks: Luongo said after practice he's ready to play, and Vancouver confirmed he would start early Saturday.

"Obviously I felt good out there, so don't know yet what's going on for [Saturday], but, yeah, good to go," he said.

The 34-year-old has not played since sustaining the injury Dec. 22 in the first period against the Winnipeg Jets.

"I've been working out on the ice for the last week, so it shouldn't be too much of an issue," he said. "You want to make sure that you start feeling the puck right away, and feel good."

Goalie Eddie Lack went 1-1-1 while Luongo was sidelined, and is 7-3-0 with a 2.02 goals-against average and .924 save percentage this season. Luongo is 16-9-6 with a 2.24 GAA and .920 save percentage, and had a five-game winning streak to start December.

Coach John Tortorella's message to Luongo was simple.

"He was playing very well before he was hurt," Tortorella said. "So there's no specific formula here: Go in and stop the puck."

Kings: Los Angeles, which has lost five in a row, also could get its No. 1 goaltender back.

Jonathan Quick said Friday his recovery from a groin injury sustained Nov. 12 against the Buffalo Sabres is almost complete.

"I feel good. I think the next step is to get some game action," Quick told LA Kings Insider after practice Friday. "... So it's up to the coaches, trainers to decide when they want me to take that step."

Quick was scheduled to play over the weekend for Manchester in the American Hockey League, but bad weather scuttled those travel plans, and the Kings thought it best for him to return to Los Angeles to be closer by for a possible return.

"I wasn't really crazy about that to be quite honest ... because first off, he was going to fly all day Monday, which would've taken him out of the equation Tuesday," Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. "So ... you're almost losing another week on him. It was kind of his call if he wanted to, and what games he wanted to play. Obviously that didn't happen, so now we just try and get him game ready for doing this."

Quick was with the Kings on a four-game road trip that ended with a 5-0 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Thursday. The 2012 Conn Smythe Trophy winner, who was named to the U.S. Olympic team Wednesday, is 10-5-0 with a 2.35 goals-against average and .905 save percentage this season.

Who's hot: Canucks forward Tom Sestito has a two-game point streak, half of his four points in 39 games this season. ... Kopitar has five points in his past six games.

Injury report: Canucks forward Alexandre Burrows (broken jaw), defenseman Alexander Edler (sprained right knee) and forward Jordan Schroeder (ankle sprain) skated this week. Burrows wore a visor and protective piece. Defensemen Andrew Alberts (upper body) and Ryan Stanton (ankle) are out. .. The Kings are healthy.

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