While the Vancouver Canucks have already wrapped up their division, the Los Angeles Kings are in quite a battle just to get into the playoffs.
The Kings look to rebound tonight with a big victory over the Northwest Division champions after having their longest winning streak of the season snapped over the weekend.
Los Angeles had posted victories in six straight games before suffering a 4-2 defeat to visiting Boston on Saturday. The Bruins' Tim Thomas came up with 40 saves, while the Kings' Jonathan Quick allowed three goals on 25 shots.
Colin Fraser and Slava Voynov lit the lamp for the Kings, who are even with the Sharks and Avalanche for the eighth spot in the Western Conference with 86 points each. Los Angeles and San Jose both have seven games remaining, two in hand over Colorado. The Sharks and Avalanche are playing tonight in San Jose.
"We know the situation we're in. We're battling with a bunch of other teams here to make the postseason, or win our division," said Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell. "We're just preparing, every game, the same way. It's a must- win. It's never good to lose this time of year, that's for sure."
Los Angeles begins a four-game road trip versus Vancouver, which clinched its fourth straight Northwest Division title before it even stepped on the ice Saturday. Calgary's loss to Dallas earlier in the day sealed things up for the Canucks and they then went out and beat the Avalanche, 3-2, in overtime.
Chris Higgins scored twice, putting home the game-winner 1:40 into overtime after one-timing a feed from the forechecking Jannik Hansen. Mason Raymond also scored and Roberto Luongo ended up with 38 saves.
"Luongo made some great saves tonight and allowed us to stay in the game," said Higgins. "I had just hopped on the ice and Janni hunted down the defender and I was able to get the shot off."
Vancouver has won two straight games, both without forward Daniel Sedin after he suffered a concussion following an elbow to the head versus Chicago on Wednesday. With 99 points, the Canucks are four behind the Blues for the most in the Western Conference and NHL with a game in hand.
The Canucks will play five straight and six of their final seven games at home, where they are 21-10-4 this season.
Vancouver won its first meeting with Los Angeles this year, but the Kings have responded with back-to-back wins. Los Angeles has lost five of its past seven trips to Vancouver.