GAME: Vancouver Canucks (22-11-6-2) at Los Angeles Kings (16-13-7-4).
TIME: Thursday, 10:30 p.m. EST.
As good as the Vancouver Canucks are, they still cannot afford to take a
The Canucks will try to widen their lead in the Northwest Division and make
up for some offensive shortcomings in their last game when they visit the Los
Despite boasting the second-highest scoring offense and one of the better
goalies in the Western Conference, the Canucks are not running away with their
Vancouver leads Colorado by two points and Calgary by four in the Northwest,
and trails Detroit by five for the top spot in the conference.
The Canucks have dropped two of three, including a 2-1 defeat to visiting
San Jose on Monday. Sharks goalie Vesa Toskala thwarted Vancouver all night,
stopping 37 shots.
"We made the right plays, but some nights they just don't go in," leading
scorer Markus Naslund said. "This was obviously one of them. I think we just
have to leave it and look ahead."
Dan Cloutier finished with 17 saves for the Canucks, who were playing their
seventh game in 11 nights.
The Kings had their winless streak extended to nine games (0-2-6-1) with
Wednesday's 4-4 tie with Anaheim, their longest slide since a 10-game drought
from Feb. 10-28, 1996 (0-7-3).
Roman Cechmanek, who had played in just one game since Dec. 11 due to a
nagging hip injury, was activated prior to the game, but did not start.
However, he did see action when Cristobal Huet was pulled at the end of the
first period after allowing three goals on 11 shots. Cechmanek played well,
allowing just one goal on 15 shots.
Cechmanek, who will likely start this game, was first hurt during a 4-1 win
over Nashville on Dec. 11 and missed three games. He then missed six games
after aggravating the injury in the Kings' 3-2 loss to Colorado on Dec. 20.
Gritty forward Ian Laperriere, who missed the previous 19 games because of a
concussion, logged 12:06 of ice time and was a minus-2.