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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — More goals, please.
That will be the mantra of both the Canucks and Los Angeles Kings when they face off Tuesday night in Vancouver.
The Canucks (18-23-6) have managed only five goals in their past three games. Meanwhile, the Kings (24-17-5) have been outscored 7-0 in the first period of their past six games.
“We have to put ourselves in a situation where we have some more (offensive) zone time,” Canucks captain Henrik Sedin told Postmedia. “Right now, we’re coming down (the ice) and it’s one shot. It’s either a save or (the opponents are) coming back at us.”
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— LA Kings (@LAKings) January 23, 2018
The Canucks felt the effects of their offensive challenges Sunday as they fell 1-0 to the Jets in Winnipeg. It was Vancouver’s second straight loss following its league-mandated five-day break.
“There was better (offensive) structure, for sure,” Sedin told Postmedia. “But from that structure, we have to create more offense. That wasn’t good enough.”
For the most part, the Canucks generated few dangerous chances while being shut out for the fourth time this season. Their chances of a better offensive effort have improved with the return of top center Bo Horvat from a broken foot. But Horvat did little in his return to the lineup Sunday after being sidelined since Dec. 5.
“It’s gonna take, obviously, a game or two to get back in the game-shape department,” Horvat told Sportsnet of Sunday’s game.
The Canucks will have to go harder to the net against a Kings team that literally stacks up well defensively and boasts one of the best goaltenders in the NHL, in Jonathan Quick — at least when they are on their game.
The Kings are much improved from last season when they missed the playoffs and cost former coach Darryl Sutter his job. However, the Kings have only one win in their past seven games while getting off to the aforementioned slow starts.
They ended their losing skid at six games with a comeback 4-2 home victory Sunday over the New York Rangers. The Kings ultimately prevailed on three second-period power-play goals
“The second period was arguably our best period this year, so we’ve just gotta play more like that,” L.A. captain Anze Kopitar said.
Kings forward Adrian Kempe received considerable credit for giving the club a lift with his fight against Rangers defenseman Brendan Smith at the end of the first period. Defenseman Alec Martinez suggested the Kings could benefit from more emotional displays.
It will not be a surprise if a few emotional outbursts occur Tuesday. The Canucks and Kings have had several heated affairs since circa 2010, even though several players have moved on from both teams lately.
But both clubs would probably choose goals over the rough stuff Tuesday.
If, as expected, goals are hard to come by, the Canucks and Kings will likely lean on their goaltenders. The Kings have a decided edge between the pipes, however.
Despite posting losses in five of his last six games, Quick ranks among the league’s best netminders with a 2.34 goals-against average and .924 save percentage. On the other hand, Vancouver’s anticipated starter, Jacob Markstrom, is well down the league list with a 2.76 GAA and a modest .908 save percentage.
More significantly, Quick has recorded 20 wins and Markstrom only has 12.
On Monday, the Kings traded goaltender Jeff Zatkoff to the Columbus Blue Jackets for future considerations.
Zatkoff had yet to suit up for the Kings after serving as Quick’s injury replacement last season. He appeared in 13 games in 2016-17 with the Kings, posting a 2-7-1 record, a .879 save percentage and a 2.95 GAA.