Kings-Canucks Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated January 16, 2012
Even though his Los Angeles Kings lost in overtime to a struggling opponent in their last game, Darryl Sutter was satisfied with his club's weekend in Alberta. A win in British Columbia would have him thrilled with the three-game road trip. Los Angeles looks to gain at least one point for the 14th time in 15 games Tuesday night against the Vancouver Canucks. The Kings (22-15-9) will be trying to become the second team from southern California to win in Vancouver in three nights following Anaheim's 4-2 victory Sunday, and they'll also be hoping to beat the Canucks for the second time since Sutter took over last month. They cruised to a 4-1 home win Dec. 31. Even though they fell to 7-1-5 under Sutter with Sunday's 2-1 overtime defeat in Edmonton, the coach forgave his team for a sluggish start after the Kings had won 4-1 the night before in Sutter's return to Calgary. "That was tough scheduling," he said. "That's a pretty good explanation for our start. We got three out of four points in Alberta. I'm all right with that. I'll take the point." After an off day, Sutter may expect a more spirited performance in Vancouver. He'll certainly hope to see a revitalized penalty kill. The Kings have allowed four power-play goals on 12 chances in their last three games - the Oilers went 2 for 3 - after opponents went 0 for 36 in their previous 11 contests. The Canucks were 0 for 4 on New Year's Eve. Anze Kopitar, who has three goals and three assists in his last four games, ended a 17-game goal drought Dec. 31. He assisted on Justin Williams' goal Sunday, but the Kings generated just 21 shots, their second-lowest total of the season. "We just couldn't seem to get it going until late in the game," defenseman Rob Scuderi said. "Our cycle game, which has been so good for us the last month, just wasn't there. It all added up to a tough night offensively." Vancouver (28-15-3) had a tough night in several areas against the Ducks, a rarity during a 19-6-2 surge to a commanding Northwest Division lead. Following a 3-1-0 road trip, which included an emotional win over Stanley Cup champion Boston, the Canucks opened a six-game homestand with a sleepy effort that included three shots on goal in the first period. "Defensively I stopped counting the turnovers after a while," coach Alain Vigneault said. "I think it was pretty evident to anybody watching the game or at the game that it didn't seem like we had a lot of jump and energy." Defenseman Kevin Bieksa said there were clear lessons to learn from the Canucks' second regulation loss in their last nine home games. "Next game we'll come out, we'll be shooting pucks early," Bieksa said. "You get better from it. It's an 82-game schedule. It's a loss, but we'll move on." Vancouver's potent offense will face a stiff challenge if Jonathan Quick is in net for the Kings. Quick has gone 3-0-2 with a 1.15 goals-against average in his last five road starts, and he beat the Canucks at home with 27 saves last month. Roberto Luongo wasn't as sharp in that game, allowing four goals on 33 shots, but he has outplayed Quick at Rogers Arena lately. Including a first-round playoff series the Canucks won in 2010, Luongo is 7-1-1 with a 1.39 GAA in his last nine home starts against the Kings.
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