Red Wings-Kings Preview
The Los Angeles Kings look to be back on track after returning home from an ugly road trip. The same can't be said for the Detroit Red Wings, who are still struggling to find consistency in a difficult season.
These former Western Conference rivals meet Saturday night for the first time since Detroit's move to the East, with Los Angeles looking for its third win in four games on a five-game homestand.
The Kings (27-13-5) defeated Boston 4-2 on Thursday to give them a 2-0-1 mark in their last three, following up an 0-4-0 trip and 0-5-0 road stretch during which they managed six goals and were shut out twice. Los Angeles recorded four goals for the first time in nine games as Justin Williams, Jeff Carter, Alec Martinez and Dustin Brown scored.
The Kings have gone 7-1-1 in the last nine at home.
''Sometimes things have a way of evening out when you're not scoring,'' Williams said. ''I thought we were very assertive tonight. ... We should be proud of the way we responded when they pushed us, and we should be proud we scored four goals on a stingy defensive team.''
There's no stingier defensive team than the Kings, who have allowed a league-low 93 goals, but they've struggled to generate offense with just 118.
However, they've totaled seven goals in their past two wins and chased the Bruins' Tuukka Rask with two scores in the first 1:45 of the second period for a 3-0 lead. Los Angeles held a 35-22 edge in shots over Boston and has outshot its last three opponents by a 124-67 margin.
That level of offense is generally enough for the defense and Jonathan Quick, who is 2-0-1 with a 1.30 goals-against average since returning from a 24-game injury absence.
''Being out for seven weeks, it seems like he didn't even miss a game,'' Brown said. ''That's why he's the best goalie.''
Quick hasn't been at his best against Detroit, losing five of his last six starts with a 3.72 GAA.
If he's in net Saturday, he'll face a Red Wings team that's won two in a row once in the past 16 contests. Detroit (19-15-10) has gone 5-8-3 in that span with 37 goals.
The Wings couldn't build on Saturday's 5-1 victory over Dallas, falling 4-1 to San Jose on Thursday in the second game of a five-game road stretch.
''We gave up two ugly goals,'' coach Mike Babcock said. ''For whatever reason, they went up 3-1 and that seemed to do it for us. We have to be mentally strong and keep skating no matter what. With this group we need good discipline and good goaltending and we didn't get it.''
Detroit was outshot 14-8 in the second period as the Sharks scored three unanswered goals.
"In the second half of the first period we started doing some good things but for whatever reason we stopped skating," defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. "We should keep going, keep skating. I've said it too many times already. It's time for us to start doing something."
Not helping matters are the absences of forwards Pavel Datsyuk and Darren Helm due to injury. Datsyuk has missed the last two games while Helm has sat out three straight as the injury bug has continued to hit the Red Wings.
Their statuses for this game are uncertain, though Datsyuk appears close to playing.
Defenseman Danny DeKeyser did return to the lineup against San Jose.
Though Detroit has won five of the past seven matchups in the series, Los Angeles has taken the last two at home.