If the Los Angeles Kings can win Saturday night against the Vancouver Canucks, they'll avoid a pair of unwanted circumstances.
A home loss would give the Kings their longest losing streak in six years and allow the Canucks, who expect No. 1 goaltender Roberto Luongo back, to jump them for third place in the Pacific Division.
The Kings (25-13-4) have scored six goals on a five-game losing streak and been shut out twice in that span - that happened once through their first 37 games. They last lost six straight when they dropped eight in a row Dec. 12-26, 2007.
It might have been over six years ago, but key players from that team can likely recall what that stretch felt like. Leading scorer Anze Kopitar also led the team in points that season, and current team captain Dustin Brown was also with Los Angeles.
"Myself and the other team leaders, we need to kind of step it up in the right direction," Brown said after the Kings lost 5-0 in St. Louis on Thursday to close a four-game road trip.
The Canucks (23-12-7) have gone 10-2-2 since the start of December to get within a point of the Kings for third in the Pacific. They didn't take advantage of their first chance to pass them Wednesday when they suffered a 4-2 home loss to Tampa Bay, and Canucks coach John Tortorella didn't make any effort to dress up the loss.
"It was our worst game of the year," Tortorella told the team's official website. "We deserved to lose that one. I just think it was a game that we were out of sorts, out of sync, and it wasn't just one particular guy. It was the whole team. And you know what? It's in the trash can already."
The Canucks have lost the first two meetings with the Kings, 3-2 in overtime on Nov. 25 in Vancouver and 5-1 on Nov. 9 in Los Angeles.
Kings center Mike Richards scored in both games and has four points against the Canucks this season, though he has one point in his last 10 games. He's gone 17 games without a goal since scoring against the Canucks.
Vancouver had Luongo in goal for both meetings this season. He has missed the last three games with a lower-body injury but said Friday after practice that he's ready to return for the trip to Southern California, which includes a game in Anaheim on Sunday.
Luongo has lost five straight to the Kings dating back to the 2012 postseason, posting a 3.50 goals-against average and .879 save percentage.
The Kings are also close to getting their No. 1 goaltender back, though Jonathan Quick's AHL rehab assignment with Manchester this week was canceled due to inclement weather for travel. Quick, named Wednesday to the United States Olympic roster, suffered a strained groin Nov. 12 in Buffalo.
Ben Scrivens and Martin Jones have a combined .880 save percentage during the five-game skid while giving up 16 goals.
"We need to turn it around," defenseman Drew Doughty said after the season-worst five-goal loss to the Blues. We're down on ourselves and that's why we got smoked."
Special teams have also been an issue. Los Angeles has killed just 69.2 percent of short-handed situations in its last six games while managing two power-play goals in 17 opportunities.
Vancouver has converted one power play in its last 19 chances.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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