Unbeaten Canucks play first road game against Kings
LOS ANGELES -- Unlike the Los Angeles Kings, the Vancouver Canucks are off to a solid start.
A club that many hockey experts picked to be at the bottom of the barrel in the NHL, the Canucks are the only unbeaten team heading into Saturday night's clash at Staples Center with the Kings.
"Expectations are whatever they are. You have to play the games," said Jannik Hansen, who scored his 100th NHL goal in a 2-1 decision over the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday. "Every player in this league is so good. If you put your best game forward, you have a pretty good chance of winning.
"Where we are going to get into trouble is if we start slacking a little bit, not playing to our system, not doing the right execution. Then we are going to have a hard time if we are going to rely on individual performances. This team isn't deep enough for that."
Vancouver is embarking on its first road trip of the season. After successful outings at home against Calgary, Carolina, St. Louis and Buffalo, the Canucks open a two-game swing in L.A. followed by a back-to-back game at Anaheim on Sunday.
"We have a tough road trip. We are playing two good teams and it's never easy going down to California," said Vancouver center Brandon Sutter, nephew of Kings head coach Darryl Sutter. Brandon Sutter leads the Canucks with four points (one goal, three assists), with two of those against the Sabres.
"It will be a good test for us. We've played some good teams so far."
Hansen said, "I'd love to keep playing at home. It seems to be working for us right now. It's a very tough road trip. I know it's only two games, but it's back-to-back in California. Two teams that haven't got off to the best start. I know they are going to be hungry."
The Kings (1-3-0), last in the Pacific Division, dropped their opening three games before posting a 4-3 overtime victory in a chippy and controversial finish Thursday at Dallas against the Stars. Alec Martinez delivered the winning goal at 1:20 of the extra period that had the Stars screaming for interference on goalie Kari Lehtonen.
"It was a terrible call at the end of the game," said Dallas coach Lindy Ruff, according to the Dallas Morning News. Ruff challenged the goal to no avail.
The win provided a significant boost to the Kings, who started the season reeling from the loss of standout goalie Jonathan Quick in their opener at San Jose with a groin injury that is expected to sideline him for three months.
Los Angeles has been outscored 15-9 in four games.
Jeff Carter and Tanner Pearson, both of whom have a team-high four points, each scored a goal against the Stars. Pearson has provided a sudden burst on a line with Carter after sitting out the initial two games of the season because of a suspension.
"I like the speed of our team, quite honest," Darryl Sutter said, according to LAKingsInsider.com. "Other than parts of one period this year, it's given us a chance to win every game."