The Vancouver Canucks were one win away from winning the franchise's first Stanley Cup title last spring. Currently, the West's top- seeded club finds itself just a loss away from postseason elimination.
The Canucks will try to stave off elimination in tonight's Game 4 at the Staples Center, while the upstart Los Angeles Kings will shoot for their first-ever sweep of a best-of-seven series.
Vancouver, which lost Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals to Boston last spring, is on the verge of becoming the sixth Presidents' Trophy winner to be eliminated in the first round, joining the 1990-91 Chicago Blackhawks, 1999-2000 St. Louis Blues, 2005-06 Detroit Red Wings, 2008-09 San Jose Sharks and 2009-10 Washington Capitals.
Meanwhile, the Kings, who are trying to become the 10th No. 8 seed to upset a No. 1 since the current playoff format began in 1994, grabbed a 3-0 edge in the series thanks to a stout performance by goaltender Jonathan Quick on Sunday.
Quick stopped 41 shots to record his second career postseason shutout and help the Kings gain a stranglehold in the series with a 1-0 win over the visiting Canucks. Quick led the NHL with 10 shutouts during the regular season and has stopped 111-of-115 shots for a stellar .965 save percentage so far in this series.
"A great performance by their goaltender," Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault said. "Give them credit, they're up and we're in a tough position right now. We know what's at stake. We have to regroup and get ready for Wednesday."
Los Angeles captain Dustin Brown netted the game's lone goal for the Kings, who will try to use home ice tonight to record their first playoff series win since 2001. LA entered this postseason with four straight series losses since beating Detroit in the first round in '01.
Brown was able to break the scoreless tie at the 6:30 mark of the third period when Justin Williams' shot from the right circle was stopped by Canucks goaltender Cory Schneider, but the big rebound kicked out to Brown in the left circle and he fired the puck into the open net.
"It was just one of those plays. I got knocked down and when I got up I just happened to be behind the defense," Brown said about his goal. "We worked hard and found a way to be up 3-0."
Brown is leading LA in this series with four goals -- the same amount Vancouver has scored in the first three games combined.
The Canucks hope the potential return of leading goal-scorer Daniel Sedin can help them avoid the sweep tonight. Sedin, who led Vancouver with 30 goals, hasn't played since suffering a concussion on March 21, but he joined the team in Los Angeles for practice on Tuesday and figures to be a game-time decision tonight.
It's unclear if Schneider will get the start again tonight or if Vigneault will go back to Roberto Luongo. Schneider made his second career start in the playoffs on Sunday in place of benched No. 1 Roberto Luongo and stopped 19- of-20 shots.
Luongo started 55 games during the regular season, but surrendered seven goals on 64 shots through the first two games of this series before being replaced for Game 3.
The Canucks haven't been swept in a best-of-seven series since losing to Colorado in the opening round of the 2001 playoffs.
Los Angeles and Vancouver have met four times in the postseason, with the Canucks winning the previous encounter in the 2010 conference quarterfinals. The Kings had won the previous two series (1991 and 1993) after the Canucks began this matchup's history with a five-game victory in a 1982 meeting.