Canadiens-Kings Preview

The Los Angeles Kings and Montreal Canadiens have both split two

road games since the end of the Olympic break. Montreal, though, is

feeling much better about its split.

The visiting Canadiens will try to make it five straight over

the Kings on Saturday night in a matchup of teams that haven’t

advanced past the second round of the playoffs since they met in

the 1993 Stanley Cup finals.

Los Angeles (38-21-4) and Montreal (30-29-6) each won its first

game after the break before losing Thursday. The Kings felt their

effort was lacking as they were outshot 25-12 over the final two

periods of a 4-2 loss at Nashville.

“Our intensity and our compete level has to be a lot higher than

that,” center Anze Kopitar told the Kings’ official Web site. “We

didn’t show up. That’s the bottom line. We got the first goal and

instead of building on that, we sat back and they kept coming. That

was the game.”

Montreal fell 3-2 at San Jose after taking a one-goal lead into

the third. Carey Price made 37 saves but was unable to stop Manny

Malhotra from scoring the winner with less than 5 minutes left.

The Canadiens, tied with Atlanta and the Rangers for the last

playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, were still happy with their

effort.

“We know we can play with anyone,” center Scott Gomez said.

“That’s a great team over there.”

The Kings are starting a stretch of six of eight at home. They

were 11-1-1 in 13 games before Thursday, when Alexander Frolov and

Drew Doughty scored.

“We’re pretty disappointed as a team in our effort tonight,”

said Doughty, who has seven points in a five-game run.

Frolov has four points in two games since the break and nine in

his last seven. Kopitar enters with a five-game streak and has a

Western Conference-leading 20 points in 14 games since Jan. 21.

The Kings haven’t beaten the Canadiens since a 2-1 victory March

8, 2003. Price made 29 saves in last season’s 4-3 home win in his

only career start against Los Angeles, while Jonathan Quick stopped

22 shots for the Kings.

Montreal feels it blew a good opportunity in San Jose as Gomez

and Brian Gionta each had a goal and an assist.

“It was pretty frustrating,” Gomez said. “We had a chance to

take two points out of here, guys played great. Carey held us in

there and they just got one by there at the end.”

The Canadiens continue to possess one of the league’s best power

plays, converting 24.4 percent of their chances. They’ve scored

four power-play goals during their win streak over the Kings.

Los Angeles has been fairly stingy on the penalty kill over its

last nine games, yielding five goals on 31 chances (16.1

percent).