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Canucks game day: Soucy returns, Demko starts in statement game against the Kings

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Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Paterson
1 month ago
For the second time in a week, the Vancouver Canucks (39-17-7) face the Los Angeles Kings (31-19-10) in a game with Pacific Division playoff implications. Last Thursday, the Kings were 5-1 winners at Rogers Arena. Tonight the teams will meet for the first time this season at Crypto.com Arena.
The Canucks lead the Pacific with 85 points followed by Edmonton at 76, Vegas at 73 and the Kings with 72. Both the Canucks and Kings will be keeping a close eye on the out of town scoreboard as the Oilers open a four-game eastern road trip in Boston tonight.

What we saw

The Canucks held a full morning skate in Los Angeles. Afterward, Rick Tocchet confirmed that Carson Soucy will make his long-awaited return to the line-up. The veteran defenceman has been out since suffering a cracked knuckle in a January 20th game against Toronto. Due to a pair of injuries, Soucy has played just eight games since mid-November. Has missed 17 games with this latest injury. Canucks are 16-3-2 with Soucy in the line-up this season and 16-1-2 the last 19 times he’s suited up.
Southern California native Thatcher Demko returns to the net for the first time since last week’s loss to the Kings. While he still has a share of the NHL lead with 31 victories, Demko is 1-4-1 in his last six starts.
On Sunday, the Canucks defeated Anaheim 2-1. Nils Höglander and Conor Garland had the Vancouver goals while Casey De Smith made 18 saves for the win. Vasily Podkolzin logged 12:39 in his season debut after being recalled from Abbotsford earlier on the weekend. 
Brock Boeser scored the Canucks lone goal against the Kings last week. He now has 15 goals in 17 career games against Los Angeles. Boeser needs one more assist for 200 in the NHL. Elias Pettersson needs two points for 400 in his career. Captain Quinn Hughes’ next assist will give him 60 for a third straight season.
After beating the Canucks last Thursday, the Kings posted their second straight 5-1 victory beating New Jersey at home on Sunday afternoon. Phillip Danault had a hattrick while Kevin Fiala and Alex Laferriere had the other LA Goals. Cam Talbot made 30 saves for his second straight victory. The Devils opened the scoring 15 seconds into the game, but after that it was all Kings.
Talbot is expected to make his fourth straight start tonight.
Fiala is on fire these days. He has scored in three straight games and has 3+5=8 on a three-game point streak. He has back to back 1+2=3 point games. He now leads the team with 55 points on the season. And since February 24th, Fiala’s 10 points trail only Nathan MacKinnon in league scoring. The Avs star forward has 12 points over that span.
The Kings have just one 20-goal scorer so far this season – Trevor Moore leads the team with 23 goals – but they have five players with 18 or more and eight players with 13 or more.
The Kings are 7-3 in their last 10 games. Los Angeles has played the fewest home games in the league meaning the team will play 13 of its final 22 games on home ice starting tonight.
Los Angeles is second in the NHL on the penalty kill at 86.2%, but the Kings are the top home ice penalty killing team in the league at 90.7%. LA has allowed just eight power play goals against at home all season.
Tonight’s referees: Chris Rooney & Dan O’Rourke

What we heard

Rick Tocchet on rematch with the Kings after 5-1 loss last week: ‘these are competitive games now coming down the stretch. I like to see how the team plays in this kind of environment. Kings are on a bit of a roll, so it’s a good test for us.”
Tocchet on four game gauntlet vs Kings, Knights, Jets & Avalanche: ‘I don’t know if it’s a measuring stick, I think it’s more we want to get to our game. I’m 90% worry about us, 10% the other team. You have to strategize this team does this, that team does that, but when it comes to it, we have to have our game in shape. Whether you play LA, Winnipeg, Vegas, all are good teams, all very structured, all have great players and have had success, so whether it’s a measuring stick, you just have to be able to show resolve and not get frustrated.’

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