Red Wings-Kings Preview

A franchise record-tying eight-game winning streak has the Los

Angeles Kings thinking about home-ice advantage in the first round

of the Western Conference playoffs.

Their home ice hasn’t provided any sort of assistance against

the Detroit Red Wings.

The Kings look to win a ninth straight game for the first time

in franchise history Saturday afternoon against the Red Wings, who

have won five in a row and 11 of 12 at Staples Center.

Los Angeles (35-19-3) was tied atop the West standings with 45

points on Dec. 13 before dropping to eighth place with a 4-8-0

tailspin over the next month.

The Kings are back among the conference’s top teams after going

10-1-0 in their past 11 games, including eight consecutive

victories. Following a 5-0 road trip that began Jan. 23 with a 3-2

win in Detroit, Los Angeles has returned home with two more

victories, most recently topping Anaheim 6-4 on Thursday behind two

goals and two assists from Anze Kopitar.

“We are trying to finish as high as we can in the standings and

play as well as we can,” defenseman Matt Greene said. “It’s not

often that you have a group of 10-15 guys playing their `A’ game

all at the same time.”

Los Angeles had won eight in a row twice previously, in 1991-92

and 1972-73.

Thursday’s win wasn’t without some moments of tension, as the

Ducks overcame a 4-1 deficit to tie the score midway through the

third period.

That, however, was one of goaltender Jonathan Quick’s few poor

stretches during the streak. The U.S. Olympian, who leads the West

with 33 wins, has a 2.20 goals-against average in the eight

straight victories.

Kopitar credited Quick with settling the team down after Anaheim

took an early 1-0 lead.

“… Quickie was there for us again,” Kopitar, who has an

eight-game point streak (seven goals, eight assists), told the

Kings’ official Web site. “It’s almost expected. When we don’t have

a good start, we know he’s going to make some big saves just before

we get going.”

Quick let in two early goals last month at Joe Louis Arena, but

made 31 saves and Kopitar had a goal and two assists in the Kings’

3-2 win.

When Detroit (27-20-10) has visited Los Angeles, however, it’s

been a different story. The Red Wings have outscored the Kings 17-5

in winning five straight at Staples Center – including a 2-1

victory Jan. 7 – and have lost just once there since March 10,

2003.

Quick is 1-5-0 with a 3.19 GAA in his career against

Detroit.

The Red Wings, however, wouldn’t even currently qualify for the

West playoffs after making it to the Stanley Cup finals the past

two seasons.

A night after winning 4-2 at conference-best San Jose on

Tuesday, Detroit fell behind by three goals and lost 3-1 in Anaheim

despite outshooting the Ducks 47-30.

“They got a couple of goals early by throwing the puck at the

net and creating traffic,” defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom said. “I

thought we battled through that and came back.”

The injury-plagued Red Wings should be back at full strength

soon, as forward Johan Franzen will return Tuesday after missing

four months with a torn ACL and defenseman Niklas Kronwall is

day-to-day with a lower-body injury.

Franzen’s eventual return should take some pressure to score off

of Pavel Datsyuk, who has struggled at times but has four goals and

four assists in his past six games.

Datsyuk, though, has just one goal in 13 career visits to

Staples Center.