Canucks game day: Preparing for the grind against LA Kings in possible playoff preview

Photo credit:© Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Paterson
1 month ago
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The Vancouver Canucks (47-21-8) wrap up a three-game road trip and finish their four-game season series with the Los Angeles Kings (40-25-11) when the teams face off at Crypto.com Arena tonight.
The Canucks are coming off a 2-1 win in Arizona on Wednesday. Quinn Hughes opened the scoring on a second period power play and then set up Conor Garland for the game-winner with 1:51 remaining in the third period. Hughes has scored in back to back games and has three of the five Canucks goals in the past two games. The Canucks captain is up to 16 goals and 86 points on the season.
After a practice at the Kings facility in El Segundo on Friday, the Canucks have elected not to hold a morning skate. As such, it will be closer to game time before their line-up is known. Casey DeSmith is expected to get the start in goal. DeSmith surrendered six goals on 30 shots in Vegas on Tuesday and has dropped his last three decisions. Arturs Silovs made 20 saves for the win on Wednesday to push his record to 2-0 this season and 5-2 in his NHL career. 
Elias Pettersson has one point in his past five games – an assist on the 1-0 goal in Arizona – but has now gone seven without a goal. A two-goal game against Buffalo on March 19th is the only game in the past 10 that has seen Pettersson put a puck in the net. Brock Boeser has 16 goals in 19 career games against the Kings including a pair of goals this season.
The team has scored power play goals in three straight going four for 10 over that span. While the power play is picking up steam, the penalty kill has given up five goals in its last 16 times short-handed over the past four games. The Canucks opened the scoring for the 50th time in 76 games on Wednesday. They are 36-10-4 when getting on the scoreboard first. The 36 victories are two more than any other team in the NHL when scoring first.
Los Angeles was a 2-1 winner in San Jose on Thursday night. Adrian Kempe and Akil Thomas scored the Kings goals while David Rittich made 15 saves for the victory. The goal for Thomas was his first in the NHL and proved to be the game winner.
Trevor Moore leads the Kings with 29 goals while Kempe and Kevin Fiala are the team’s top point producers with 68 apiece. Captain Anze Kopitar has 66. Shutdown centre Phillip Danault has missed four games with an upper body injury. He is questionable for tonight’s game.
The Kings are the third best defensive team in the league behind Winnpieg and Florida. They are second in the NHL on the penalty kill and allow the fourth fewest shots on a per game basis. They have also won five straight on home ice and are 10-2-1 in their last 13 in front of their home fans.
LA has moved seven points clear of St. Louis in the race for the final playoff spot in the West. The Kings, though, have their sights set on climbing the Pacific Division ranks. They are just a single point behind the Vegas Golden Knights and six back of the Edmonton Oilers. 
The Kings don’t leave Southern California for their final six games. Five of them are on home ice and their lone remaining road game is in Anaheim next Tuesday. The Canucks are the final playoff-bound opponent remaining on LA’s schedule.
The Kings have taken two of the first three meetings between these teams with the visitor winning on all three occasions. The last two games have both been decided by a goal with the Canucks squeezing out a 2-1 overtime victory the last time they were in LA on March 5th. The Kings have opened the scoring in all three head to head match-ups and have not trailed at any point during the run of play.
Cam Talbot, who gets the start in goal tonight, is 2-0-1 against the Canucks this season with a 1.36 GAA and a .936 save percentage. He has allowed just two goals at 5-on-5 through the first three games. 
Today’s referees: Eric Furlatt and Mitch Dunning
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