Canucks-Kings Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated March 22, 2013
The Vancouver Canucks have been hit hard with injuries. They can only hope defenseman Alex Edler doesn't get hit with a suspension. Vancouver goes for its first three-game winning streak in more than a month on Saturday when the host Los Angeles Kings try to rebound from their first regular-season shutout loss at Staples Center in more than a year. The Canucks (15-9-6) are tied with Minnesota atop the Northwest Division with 36 points, but they're dealing with a host of injuries. Manny Malhotra (eye) is done for the season, Ryan Kesler (broken foot), David Booth (ankle) and Zach Kassian (back) are on injured reserve, and Vancouver didn't have Chris Higgins (back) or Steve Pinizzotto (illness) available on Thursday when it started a three-game trip with a 2-1 victory over Phoenix. With AHL call-up Andrew Gordon skating on the fourth line with Max Lapierre and Tom Sestito, and defenseman Keith Ballard moving up to forward on the third line with Andrew Ebbett and Dale Weise, the Canucks won on goals from defenseman Chris Tanev and rookie center Jordan Schroeder. "It was kind of an ugly road win and that's what we need,'' Schroeder said. The Canucks need Edler - who has five goals and 12 assists - to be available on Saturday, but he has a Friday phone hearing with the league for a hit on Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith. Whoever can skate for the Canucks will try to help them win three in a row for the first time since a six-game surge that started after their last visit to Los Angeles, a 3-2 shootout loss on Jan. 28. It was the teams' first matchup since the eighth-seeded Kings defeated the top-seeded Canucks in the first round of the 2012 playoffs en route to their first Stanley Cup. Roberto Luongo made 26 saves in that contest, but Cory Schneider has made a strong case to be in net for a third straight game. He's stopped 65 of 68 shots in the last two after losing his previous three starts. "(The effort) has been there for a long time, working hard, but sometimes maybe trying to make it too cute, too complicated, and you bring it back to basics,'' Schneider said after Thursday's 33-save effort. Schneider turned aside 28 shots in a 5-2 Canucks victory on March 2 that ended the Kings' five-game winning streak. Los Angeles (17-11-2) will try to get back into the win column after its three-game streak ended with Thursday's 2-0 loss to Dallas. The Kings hadn't been shut out by a visiting team in the regular season since last Feb. 18 versus Calgary. Coach Darryl Sutter put much of the blame on the Dustin Brown-Anze Kopitar-Justin Williams line, which was on the ice for both goals. "They didn't play very well," Sutter said. "They got caught on two long shifts, caught on the wrong side of pucks, caught in different situations that we don't want to be in. They've struggled for two or three games that line, probably three in a row now." Kopitar has two assists against Vancouver this season, while Williams has one goal and Brown no points. Daniel Sedin, who scored on one of brother Henrik's two assists in the latest meeting with the Kings, left Thursday's game after a collision with Smith, but he returned and should play Saturday.
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