Kings-Canucks Preview

The Associated Press

The Vancouver Canucks have wrapped up another division title and are all but locked in as one of the top two seeds in the Western Conference.

That doesn't mean they don't still have plenty of motivation.

The Canucks will try to help themselves in their chase for the conference lead and a second straight Presidents' Trophy by putting a dent into the Los Angeles Kings' playoff hopes Monday night.

Vancouver (45-21-9) secured its fourth consecutive Northwest Division crown before Saturday's 3-2 overtime win over Colorado thanks to Calgary's loss in Dallas earlier in the day.

Chris Higgins scored the winning goal against the Avalanche - his second of the game - and Roberto Luongo made 38 saves. That effort, however, drew little celebration from the defending West champs, who still trail in the conference race.

"We have our sights set on catching St. Louis,'' Higgins said. "It should be fun down the stretch trying to catch them."

To help their cause, the Canucks will try to add to their 5-0-2 mark in their past seven regular-season home games against the Kings (37-26-12). Vancouver, though, lost 3-2 in a shootout at Rogers Arena on Jan. 17 and fell 4-1 on Dec. 31 at Staples Center.

The Canucks won't have All-Star forward Daniel Sedin available as he's dealing with a concussion. Sedin suffered that injury when Chicago's Duncan Keith elbowed him in the head during a 2-1 overtime loss Wednesday. Keith was given a five-game suspension by the NHL on Friday.

Sedin has seven goals and 10 assists during an 11-game point streak - playoffs included - against Los Angeles, and a team-best four points during this season's series.

While short-handed, Vancouver will face a team that's motivated by a drive for a third straight playoff berth. The Kings were making significant strides toward that goal until a 4-2 loss to Boston on Saturday.

Los Angeles gave up three goals in the third period as the Bruins snapped its season-high six-game win streak. The loss put the Kings in a three-way tie for eighth in the West with San Jose and Colorado.

"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," defenseman Willie Mitchell said. "We're just preparing for every game the same way - like it's a must-win."

Los Angeles will seek those victories during a four-game road trip that includes visits to fellow playoff contender Calgary as well as Edmonton and Minnesota. The Kings are seeking a season high-tying third consecutive road win after a 4-7-2 stretch that followed their win in Vancouver.

Vancouver, meanwhile, will try to get its five-game homestand off to a positive start. The Canucks won their most recent game at Rogers Arena, 4-3 over Columbus on March 17, but haven't collected consecutive victories there since a four-game win streak Feb. 13-March 1.

Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick will try to spoil that opener. He has a 1.88 goals-against average in his last 11 regular-season starts against Vancouver but is 4-6-1.

Luongo is 3-1-1 with a 1.97 GAA in his last five matchups with the Kings, while Cory Schneider has never faced them.

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