Canucks-Kings Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated January 28, 2013
The Los Angeles Kings' unlikely road to their first Stanley Cup last season began with a playoff win over the top-seeded Vancouver Canucks. They'll meet for the first time since that series on Monday night when the Canucks conclude a three-game road trip at Staples Center. Los Angeles (1-2-1) became the first No. 8 seed to win the Stanley Cup last season, eliminating each of the Western Conference's division winners along the way. That included stunning the Canucks in five games in the opening round after they had won a second straight Presidents' Trophy. The stakes aren't anywhere close to being that high this time as the Kings seek a second straight victory after beating Phoenix 4-2 on Saturday for their first win of the season in a rematch of the Western Conference finals. Star center Anze Kopitar keyed the victory with his first two goals of the season after coming up empty in his first two contests following his return from a knee injury. "There was no fire underneath me, but it was nice to get (the first goals and points) out of the way. You definitely think about it," Kopitar told the team's official website. "We wanted to get off to a good start. We talked about it and we planned for it. But it's been a little bit of a struggle." Kopitar has led the Kings in scoring for five straight seasons, recording 25 goals and 76 points in 2011-12. He had eight points in nine total meetings with the Canucks (2-2-1) last season, while linemate Dustin Brown's four goals and one assist did major damage in the playoffs. Los Angeles is the only team in the league without a power-play goal, squandering 23 chances. Jonathan Quick, the reigning Conn Smythe Trophy winner, will likely be in net trying to build on his 31-save performance against the Coyotes. He had a 1.59 goals-against average and a shutout against Vancouver in the playoffs. It's unclear if the Canucks will counter Quick with Cory Schneider or rest him in favor of the embattled Roberto Luongo, who surrendered seven goals on 64 shots while losing the first two games - and his job - during last year's playoff series. Schneider dropped two of the next three games despite a 1.31 GAA. Luongo has lost four of his last six regular-season starts in Los Angeles with a 3.68 GAA. Schneider has started the last three games, making 30 saves in Friday's 5-0 win at Anaheim to open this trip. However, he followed that up two days later with 23 stops in a 4-1 defeat to San Jose. The Canucks went 0 for 7 on the power play after converting 6 of 22 opportunities over the first four games. "Power play wasn't as good," coach Alain Vigneault told the league's official website. Daniel Sedin started the season with two goals and four assists through four games, but was held without a point for the first time Sunday. He should be happy to see the Kings since he has four goals and seven assists during a nine-game regular-season point streak against them. Henrik Sedin, who had five points against Los Angeles in the playoffs, has one in each of the last six regular-season visits to Staples Center.
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