National Hockey League
Rangers-Kings Preview
National Hockey League

Rangers-Kings Preview

Updated Mar. 4, 2020 12:59 p.m. ET

The Los Angeles Kings can thank the New York Rangers for some breathing room atop the Pacific Division, but they're aiming for the top spot in the Western Conference.

The Kings look to extend their recent surge Thursday night and continue their success against the Rangers.

Los Angeles (42-22-5) leads the Pacific by four points over second-place Anaheim with 13 games remaining. The Kings maintained that edge after the Rangers beat the Ducks 2-1 on Wednesday.

Los Angeles overtook Anaheim during a 9-2-1 stretch that also put it two points behind Dallas and St. Louis for first in the West. The Kings have two games in hand on the Stars and three on the Blues.


They may be able to at least pull level with idle St. Louis since Dallas hosts Tampa Bay.

Coach Darryl Sutter is expecting both the division and conference races to go down to the wire.

"The league has changed a lot in terms of the way the game's played in the last couple months of the season, and as you're going down the stretch, it's not for the faint of heart," Sutter said. "Now, everybody's the same going down the stretch. It's the big difference in the game. There's no nights off."

Los Angeles, though, is coming off two of its most impressive performances of the season, winning 5-0 at Chicago on Monday and 5-2 at Dallas the following day.

"We play the same way every night, and we've done it all year," Sutter said. "It doesn't matter who it's against. Sometimes we don't score enough, and sometimes there's little things that make a difference, but our team shows up."

That's certainly true for Tyler Toffoli, who scored in each victory to match his production from the previous 23. Despite the slump, he's still the team leader with a career-high 26 tallies and needs one more point to match his personal-best 49 set last season.

Toffoli hasn't scored in the last eight meetings with New York, including the 2014 Stanley Cup Final won by the Kings in five games.

Jonathan Quick should be back in net after Jhonas Enroth made 24 saves Tuesday. Quick has a 1.45 goals-against average while going 3-0-1 over his last four starts, including a 32-save shutout of the Blackhawks.

He's 7-3-0 with a 1.97 GAA in 10 career meetings with the Rangers, including the Cup Final.

New York (40-23-7) is second in the Metropolitan Division, two points ahead of the third-place New York Islanders.

Kevin Klein provided the difference in the standings Wednesday with his first two-goal game in his 11-season career. The goals also came after he was stripped of the puck in the defensive zone leading to the Ducks' tally in the first period.

"It's nice, but the two points is the big thing," Klein said. "Just to chip in, I'm happy about that."

The Rangers should have Henrik Lundqvist back in net after Antti Raanta stopped 22 shots Wednesday. Lundqvist, though, has lost his last three starts with a 3.71 GAA after posting a 1.69 GAA while winning eight of the previous 10.

He hasn't faced the Kings since making 48 saves before allowing a goal by Alec Martinez in overtime of a 3-2 loss at Staples Center in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final.

The Rangers avoided a major scare Wednesday when Ryan McDonagh was hit in side of the face by an Anaheim shot as time expired. He collapsed to the ice in pain but skated off on his own after trainers tended to him.

Coach Alain Vigneault said the Rangers captain is "OK, as far as I know."


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