Things were recently looking pretty bleak for the Los Angeles Kings, but one week can make a big difference.
Riding their longest winning streak in more than two months and brimming with confidence, the Kings look to match a season high with their fourth straight victory when they host the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday.
Los Angeles (15-24-2) lost eight straight games Dec. 12-26, averaging just 1.9 goals while posting its longest losing streak since an 11-game skid to close the 2003-04 season. Kings coach Marc Crawford was booed by a sellout crowd at Staples Center when his name was announced before a 3-2 loss to San Jose on Dec. 26.
The Kings, though, have bounced back with wins in their last three games, highlighted by a 9-2 rout in the finale of a home-and-home series against Chicago on Tuesday. It marked the most goals for Los Angeles since a 9-2 win over the New York Islanders on Nov. 16, 1995, at the Forum.
"Our confidence was at a high level," said Crawford, whose club is looking to match its four-game winning streak from Oct. 19-27. "We took advantage of maybe some shoddy coverage, and the hunger that we had on the puck was at a very good level. We did a great job of moving the puck and finding the open mad and the guys got their shots away."
Ladislav Nagy and Alexander Frolov combined for five goals and five assists to key the offensive outburst, and they each had one of the Kings' season-high five power-play goals. Nagy has eight points during the Kings' current win streak, and the team is 5-0-1 when he scores at least one goal.
"Nagy and Frolov in particular were doing a good a great job," defenseman Tom Preissing said. "The key to our power play is when those two are on. Those are two guys who we count on to score almost every game."
The Kings hope they've saved some offense for Columbus (18-16-6), which has already won two games against Los Angeles this season, including a 4-1 victory at Staples on Oct. 31 that snapped the Kings' previous four-game winning streak.
The Blue Jackets, though, struggled offensively in a 2-1 loss to Anaheim on Wednesday - their third straight defeat on the road.
"Our goalie (Pascal Leclaire) gave us every chance to win," said Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock, whose team ranks near the bottom of the league with 2.45 goals per game. "It was the same old picture - we don't score enough."
The Blue Jackets, who are entering the second of a four-game trip, have the worst road record in the Western Conference at 5-10-2.
They'll try to improve that mark behind Leclaire, who's 2-0-0 with a 0.50 goals-against average in two career games against the Kings, including Columbus' win on Halloween.
Los Angeles goalie Jason LaBarbera is 1-2-0 with a 1.96 GAA in four games versus Columbus.