By Nicolino Dibenedetto
Los Angeles (33-36-11) at Vancouver (43-27-10), 10:00 p.m. EST
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) -- The race for the Northwest
Division title is going down to the wire, and the Vancouver
Canucks hope a pair of meetings against two of the worst teams
in the Western Conference can help.
The Canucks have an opportunity to gain sole possession of the
division lead Thursday night when they host the Los Angeles
Vancouver (43-27-10), which has already secured a playoff spot,
is tied for first in the Northwest with Calgary after beating
the Flames 4-1 on Tuesday behind 46 saves from Roberto Luongo.
"We'd rather take two points and play bad than the opposite, but
we didn't play great," said defenseman Mattias Ohlund, who had
two goals. "They totally outplayed us and Louie stole the game."
The Canucks and Flames have two games left with Vancouver
closing out the regular season at conference-worst Colorado on
Saturday. Calgary is off until facing Edmonton in a
home-and-home series on Friday and Saturday.
Winning the division would move the Canucks from fifth place to
third in the West, giving them home-ice advantage for at least
the first round of the playoffs.
The Canucks hope Luongo can build on Tuesday's performance,
which came after he posted a 4.23 goals-against average in
losing three consecutive games.
Luongo is 3-1-0 with a 1.51 GAA and a shutout in the last three
games against the Kings (33-36-11), who will miss the playoffs
for a sixth consecutive season.
Henrik and Daniel Sedin, Vancouver's co-leaders with 81 points,
have also been productive against Los Angeles, totaling 14 goals
and 29 assists in 31 games.
Henrik Sedin, who scored on an assist from his brother Daniel on
Tuesday, had two goals and an assist in a 4-2 win over the Kings
at GM Place on March 13. That started a 14-game stretch that has
seen the center compile nine goals and 12 assists.
Los Angeles, which ends its season against San Jose on Saturday,
is looking to damage the Canucks' division title hopes after
winning 2-1 at Edmonton on Tuesday, eliminating the Oilers from
"We talked about finishing out the year strong," defenseman Matt
Greene said. "We're just trying to make sure we have some good
compete out there and are playing hard.
"We're going for points here, we're not going to lay down for
anybody. Just another game for us."
Alexander Frolov, the Kings' leader with 31 goals, has regained
his scoring touch after netting a goal 55 seconds into Tuesday's
win. The left wing has three goals in the last three games after
enduring a season high-tying five-game drought.
Frolov has a goal in each of his last three visits to Vancouver,
giving him seven in 11 appearances there.