L.A. Kings (45-27-6) at Vancouver Canucks (34-32-11)
Rogers Arena, 7 p.m.
TV: CBC; Radio: TEAM 1040 AM
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Henrik Sedin isn't giving up hope.
With the team's playoff chances hanging by a thread, the Vancouver Canucks' captain is returning to line-up tonight against the Los Angeles Kings at Rogers Arena (7 p.m., CBC/Team 1040) after missing the past four games with a knee injury.
The math is simple. A regulation Vancouver loss tonight, coupled with a Dallas Stars victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning, and the Canucks are mathematically out of the playoffs.
Vancouver has four more games remaining after tonight. It's the longest of shots. A chance remains, though, which explains why Sedin is back in the line-up.
"It felt good on Wednesday and better yesterday again. This morning, I'm right there. I'm ready to go," the first-line centre said of his knee.
"It's too bad we are where we are, but this is happening. We need a win."
Winger Zack Kassian added: "He's our leader. He does everything well. To have him back is going to be a big boost for our offence and just our team in general."
Sedin says the Canucks need "to show that we are a team" the rest of the way.
"Even if things haven't gone the way we want the last couple of weeks, we've shown our desperation is there," he said of a Vancouver team that's winless in three (0-2-1). "No one has given up here. That's a great sign."
The Kings have beaten the Canucks in all four of their previous meetings this season, the last coming in a feisty, ill-willed 1-0 decision in Los Angeles on Jan. 14. That was the game where Vancouver's Ryan Kesler scrapped with then Olympic teammate-in-waiting Dustin Brown, and that much-talked-about seven-minute L.A. power play resulting from Tom Sestito chasing after Jordan Nolan following Nolan taking a run at Sedin.
Kevin Bieksa downplayed the idea that there might be a direct carry-over from that game, but the veteran Vancouver rearguard also maintained there's plenty of feeling between the teams.
"You either don't like a team or you don't mind them. These are guys that we don't like. We haven't liked them for a long time," he said. "It's a good rivalry."
Vancouver only had five defencemen take the morning skate, with Yannick Weber skipping the session because, in the words of coach John Tortorella, he's "nicked up." Vancouver recalled Frank Corrado from their AHL Utica affiliate and Tortorella said he would play if Weber wasn't fit.
Los Angeles has dropped two of their past three, including a 2-1 road decision to the San Jose Sharks on Thursday.
Kings star defenceman Drew Doughty left that game with an apparent shoulder injury. He didn't practise Friday in Vancouver and he didn't even have a stall in the Kings' dressing room Saturday morning, so he's unlikely to play.
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