Canucks beat Kings, take over Northwest lead
It was far from pretty, but when you're mired in a battle for the Northwest Division title, you'll take victories any way you can.
Ryan Kesler scored the lone goal of a pretty dull contest to lift the Canucks to a 1-0 win over the visiting Los Angeles Kings on Thursday in Vancouver's final home game of the regular season.
Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo had a pretty easy night — he was only called upon to make 20 saves en route to earning his eighth shutout of the campaign, eclipsing the club record of seven set by Dan Cloutier in 2001-02.
Vancouver has already clinched a playoff berth but is trying to beat the Calgary Flames for first place in the Northwest, ensuring home-ice advantage in the first round of the post-season.
With 98 points, the Canucks lead the Northwest over the Flames (96 points), although Calgary has a game in hand. The Flames can clinch the division title by winning their last two regardless of what the Canucks do. If the clubs finish tied on points, Calgary's higher total of wins will take precedence.
The Canucks wrap up the regular season Saturday afternoon in Denver against the Colorado Avalanche. The Flames visit Edmonton on Friday before closing out the season against the Oilers at home the next night (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 10 p.m. ET).
"There's a little bit of pressure on them," said Kesler, who was named the Canucks' season MVP in a ceremony before the game.
Kesler's goal came early in the third period, firing a wrist shot off a rebound past Kings goalie Jonathan Quick while the Canucks were on a power play.
The goal, set up by Mats Sundin, was Kesler's 26th of the season.
That was all the offence the Canucks needed, as Luongo stopped all seven shots he faced in the third period, and Vancouver killed off a Los Angeles power play in the final minute of regulation to hold on for the win.
"Defensively, we really executed well and didn't give them much room," said Luongo. "As far as scoring chances are concerned that's a part of our game we want to improve on and we did that tonight."
"There's still a ways to go but all in all I thought we played good defensively and Lou had another great game for us and got the shutout," Kesler said.
With files from Canadian Press