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Canucks Preview: Team focused on division title heading into game against Kings

The Canucks try to firm up their hold on the Northwest Division when they host the Los Angeles Kings in their fourth and final meeting this season.

Despite losing 3-2 to the Calgary Flames on Saturday, the Canucks (47-24-7) finished 11-2-2 in March, equalling their highest point total in a month in team history. They also earned 24 points in November of 2002, going 12-1-0.

Vancouver has already clinched a playoff spot, but is trying to win its second division title in three seasons. The Canucks have 101 points and are three points ahead of second-place Minnesota.

Vancouver set its franchise record for victories in a season with a 4-2 win over the Kings (26-39-14) on Thursday and are three points away from tying their highest point total in a season, set in 2002-03. Leading scorer Daniel Sedin had two goals and an assist in that win while his twin brother Henrik had three assists to help the Canucks improve to 2-0-1 against Los Angeles.

Vancouver could use a similar performance to bounce back from its rare defeat on Saturday. The Canucks trailed 3-0 just four minutes into the second period, but nearly pulled off the comeback with two third-period goals from Brendan Morrison and Markus Naslund.

Naslund snapped a 10-game goal-scoring drought for Vancouver, which outshot Calgary 18-3 in the final period.

"The first 25 minutes we had some pretty bad breakdowns in our own zone and it's tough to come back from 3-0," said Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo, who was 10-2-2 with a 1.96 goals-against average in March.

Luongo will likely have some additional help on Tuesday as defenceman Sami Salo is expected back after missing the five of the last six games with a groin injury. Defenceman Mattias Ohlund remains out with an elbow cut, but is scheduled to return Thursday versus Colorado.

The Kings, who will miss the playoffs for the fourth straight season, are trying to snap a four-game losing streak. They have been outscored 17-6 during that skid and fell 6-2 to the San Jose Sharks on Sunday.

Michael Cammalleri, who leads the Kings with 76 points, tied the game late in the first period on a five-on-three power play, but Los Angeles allowed four unanswered in the second and was outshot 16-2.

"They just dominated us in the second period," said Los Angeles coach Marc Crawford, who coached the Canucks from 1999-2006. "Obviously they smelled blood and they were way too much for us to handle."

The Kings have one of the league's worst penalty-killing units and have thwarted just five of 10 opponent's power-play chances over the last two games. Los Angeles is a dismal 11-23-5 on the road and has lost three in a row there.

The Canucks are 25-10-4 at home, where they are trying to avoid tying a season high with a third straight loss.



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