Kings face must-win in Vancouver

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Jarome Iginla is hoping that one memorable night leads to another Friday.

The 39-year-old Los Angeles Kings winger will play what could be his last game in Vancouver, two nights after excelling and then receiving a rousing send-off from fans after what could have been his final game in Calgary, where he starred for many years.

Friday's matchup holds extra meaning as the Kings (43-30-4) fight to keep their slim playoff hopes alive against the already eliminated Canucks (30-37-9).

The Kings are 10 points out of a playoff spot, and a loss to Vancouver would eliminate them from contention.

"I don't know what the future holds," Iginla said Thursday after a short Kings practice at Rogers Arena. "Whether I play next year or not, I appreciate all the times and the games I've had against the Canucks. I have lots of good memories of competing against the Canucks and some great battles in here fighting in the playoffs.

"Obviously, I may play next year and I may not. But whether I lose or not, I want to enjoy it. Each game is still a lot of fun playing. But it's still our goal to make the playoffs and we're gonna do our best to give ourselves that chance."

Iginla is looking for the Kings to pick up where they left off Wednesday in a convincing 4-1 victory over the Flames.

"We want to carry that over," Iginla said. "It was a team effort, team game, and it felt good."

It would also be nice for the Kings if Iginla picked up where he left off personally on Wednesday. He had a Gordie Howe hat trick -- a goal, assist and a fight.

With six games remaining, the Kings need a lot of help from other teams in order to make the playoffs.

But Iginla and company also want to make sure they help themselves as much as possible.

Starting Friday.

"It's a must-win game," defenseman Drew Doughty said. "It's kind of like how all of our games have been in the last few weeks."

Essentially, one more regulation-time loss will end the Kings' postseason hopes. But Doughty said they are determined to go out fighting.

"We're all fighters in here," he said. "We take a lot of pride when we put on the Los Angeles Kings' jersey, and we take a lot of pride in playing well for each other.

"We're brothers in here and we're never gonna go out on the ice and not play as hard as we possibly can -- no matter the circumstances."

Doughty wants the Kings to deliver a better effort than they did in a 4-3 home loss to the Canucks earlier this month.

"That was a big game for us, and that was a game we needed to win, too, and it was a game we should have won," Doughty said. "That was probably a big difference in (determining) where we are in the standings right now.

"If we'd won that game, we might have gone on a bit of a roll or something like that. So we owe these guys, because they beat us in our arena."

The Canucks have lost nine of their past 11 games but have two wins in three meetings with L.A. this season. Both victories came in the last two encounters.

Canucks captain Henrik Sedin said they are looking forward to being potential playoff spoilers.

"It gives us incentive to play for -- for sure," Sedin said. "We've got nothing else except for pride, so that's something that we can look to play for -- but we'd rather be playing for a playoff spot ourselves."

However, Canucks coach Willie Desjardins downplayed the potential spoiler role.

"You want to play well for you," he said. "You're not doing it to spite somebody else or whatever. You want to make sure you're playing good because that's what you do and that's how you play.

"L.A.'s got a good team. They're gonna come in and play hard, and we're have to be ready if we're gonna compete against them."

The rebuilding Canucks will continue to audition young players. Forward Griffen Molino is slated to make his NHL debut after signing as a free agent Tuesday upon the completion of his collegiate career with Western Michigan.

"I'm excited to just get that first game under my belt, work hard, see how things go, try to keep it simple and have fun," said Molino, a 23-year-old Trenton, Mich., native.

But Vancouver goaltender Jacob Markstrom will not be taking part in many enjoyable activities for a while. Markstrom, out since mid-February with a knee injury suffered while trying to stop a breakaway in a team skills competition, has had his season shut down.

He will undergo surgery next week to repair a torn meniscus.

"It's very disappointing," Markstrom said. "Obviously, it sucks being out of the lineup and being injured. You want to battle with the guys."
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