Canucks look to end losing streak against Kings

The Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks will be looking for landing spots to halt their free falls when they meet for the first time this season Saturday night at Staples Center.

The Kings (7-13-1) have struggled to compile wins all season, while the Canucks (10-13-2) got off to a decent start before losing their past eight games.

The Canucks most recently lost 4-0 at the San Jose Sharks on Friday night. Vancouver will be trying to avoid losing nine in a row for the first time since Oct. 22 to Nov. 7, 2016, which was one loss shy of the longest losing streak in team history.

Los Angeles was 4-8-1 under John Stevens when he was fired Nov. 4, and the Kings are 3-5-0 since Willie Desjardins took over. They have yet to win two in a row with Desjardins behind the bench.

The Kings may have delivered their poorest effort of the season Wednesday night, giving up six straight goals before losing 7-3 to the visiting Colorado Avalanche, the eighth time this season they have lost by at least three goals.

“We need to get out of it and we need to get out of it now,” Los Angeles defenseman Drew Doughty told reporters after the loss. “We’ve said that for weeks, but I don’t know what to say anymore, honestly.”

The Kings have often fallen behind early, allowing the first goal in 13 of 21 games this season, and rarely bounce back. They’re 1-11-1 when falling behind 1-0 this season.

Los Angeles tied for fourth in the NHL last season with six wins after it trailed at the start of the third period but hasn’t shown that late-game grit this fall. The Kings are 0-12-0 when trailing to start the third period.

After finishing No. 1 on the penalty kill last season with an 85 percent success rate, the Kings dropped to 25th (75 percent) after going 1-for-4 on the penalty kill against Colorado.

“Once again, we know what we’ve got to do on the PK and we’re not executing it,” Doughty said. “That’s why they’re making us look foolish, and it’s once again about pride and the will to do it.”

One of the bright spots of late has been the play off Kings rookie goaltender Cal Petersen and forwards Matt Luff and Austin Wagner.

Petersen was overrun by six goals on 31 shots against Colorado before he was lifted early in the third period, but he was impressive in the first three starts of his NHL career, all within a four-day span ending Monday with a 2-0 shutout at the St. Louis Blues.

Luff scored his first NHL goal against the Blues and scored another against the Avalanche, giving him three points in the past two games.

Wagner scored his first NHL goal against the Avalanche and also assisted on Luff’s goal for his first NHL points in his 10th game.

“Some of our young guys have given us some good performances,” Desjardins said. “Petersen’s been good in net. He had a tough one (Wednesday) night, but it wasn’t him at all. It was good to see Luff and Wagner capitalize. There are some things there where we’re getting a little bit more out of our young players, which is good to see.”