Maple Leafs-Kings Preview
Backed by their strong defense and outstanding goaltending, the Los Angeles Kings are in position to match the longest winning streak in franchise history.
They’ll try for a ninth straight victory in the opener of a five-game homestand against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night.
Los Angeles (38-22-6) has outscored opponents 25-12 while winning eight straight in regulation for the third time in club history and first since 1991-92. The run followed a stretch of nine losses in 10 games.
The Kings won a team-record nine in a row Jan. 21-Feb. 6, 2010, but have never taken nine in a row in regulation.
"We’re going well right now," backup Martin Jones told the NHL’s official website after he made 24 saves in Monday’s 3-2 win at Calgary.
"We just need to make sure we keep getting better here."
The Kings’ 139 goals allowed are the fewest in the league. Jonathan Quick is 6-0 with an 0.99 goals-against average during the winning streak while Jones is 2-0 with a 3.01 GAA in that span.
"That’s a team that’s not going to make it easy on you," Flames forward and ex-King Michael Cammalleri said.
Anze Kopitar had a goal and an assist as Los Angeles jumped out to a 3-0 lead before holding off a late Calgary rally. Kopitar has four goals and eight assists in nine games.
Marian Gaborik has played on the top line with Kopitar and Justin Williams, but hasn’t recorded a point in three games since the Kings acquired him from Columbus last week. Gaborik has 12 goals and nine assists in his last 14 games against Toronto, including a goal this season with the Blue Jackets.
Jeff Carter had a goal and an assist while Jones made 38 saves in Los Angeles’ 3-1 victory at Toronto (35-24-8) on Dec. 11.
The Maple Leafs have dropped two straight at home to the Kings but have won in their last two trips to Los Angeles.
Toronto had won three in a row overall and earned at least one point in five straight road contests after opening this five-game trip with a 3-1 win over Anaheim on Monday. The Leafs, though, looked worn down in a 6-2 loss to San Jose on Tuesday.
They failed on both power-play chances and are 1 for 22 in their last nine games.
"From the beginning we weren’t ready to play," said defenseman Jake Gardiner, who scored both Toronto goals. "We gave up two pretty quick ones and no one really played well."
Phil Kessel was held without a point after recording a goal and two assists against the Ducks. He had an assist against the Kings in December and has four goals and an assist in two career games at Los Angeles.
Teammate Jonathan Bernier, who spent the previous five seasons with Los Angeles, stopped 20 shots against his former club Dec. 11. He’s posted a 1.95 GAA during a three-game winning streak.
The Kings are expected to have center Jordan Nolan back after he served a one-game suspension for punching Edmonton’s Jesse Joensuu in Sunday’s 4-2 victory.