Sens' trip continues in L.A.
Thursday, 12.03.2009 / 7:30 PM
SENATORS (13-8-4) at KINGS (16-10-2)
Last 10 --
Ottawa 5-3-2; Los Angeles 6-4-0.
Season series --
These teams meet for the only time in the 2009-10 season. In their last meeting, Jonathan Quick
stopped all 29 shots he faced and Michal Handzus scored with 2:39 left in regulation as the Kings beat the Senators, 1-0, at Scotiabank Place. It was the first game for Cory Clouston since taking over as Ottawa coach.
Big story --
Neither of these squads were accounted for in last season’s Stanley Cup Playoffs, but both would be in there if the postseason began today. Ottawa, which went to the Stanley Cup Final in 2007, is currently battling Boston and Buffalo for the Northeast Division lead. Los Angeles, in search of its first playoff berth since 2002, sits second in the Pacific Division.
This is the third in a five-game road trip for Ottawa, and the second of four straight against competition from the Pacific. Despite consecutive two-goal games from Milan Michalek
, the Senators are still looking for their first victory. They dropped a 4-3 shootout decision in Boston, then began their California swing with a 5-2 loss to San Jose on Tuesday.
Michalek and Jonathan Cheechoo both played their first game against the Sharks after being traded in the offseason for Dany Heatley, and got warm receptions from the crowd at HP Pavilion.
“It was pretty cool,” Cheechoo said. “I played a lot of games in this rink, so it was neat. Yeah, you hear the fans. They were always supportive. The fans were always great to me, so coming back and playing here again so soon was great.”
Kings -- Brad Richardson
led Los Angeles to its second straight win and third in four games in Anaheim on Tuesday. Building off an impressive 2-1 shootout win over the Blackhawks, the Kings earned two more points when Richardson, who entered the game without a single point in 26 games, tipped in a Jack Johnson
shot for his first goal and second point of the night. Quick slammed the door on a 4-3 win over the Ducks.
“It's been a long time coming, for sure. I just tried to shoot the puck and stay positive, and I knew eventually it would come,” Richardson said. “I just tried to create some traffic, and luckily I got a tip on it.”
Who's hot --
Michalek, whose career high for goals in a season is 26, appears on his way to a breakout year with 15 after netting four over the first two games of the road trip. … Second-year right wing Wayne Simmonds has three goals and five points in the Kings’ last four games.
Injury report --
Ottawa forwards Chris Neil
and Shean Donovan remain out with knee injuries, though Neil could be back soon. Goaltender Pascal Leclaire (broken jaw) won’t be back until around Christmas.
Los Angeles defenseman Rob Scuderi
missed the Anaheim game with a lower-body injury. Forward Ryan Smyth (upper-body injury) could be activated from injured reserve in a couple weeks.
Stat pack --
Half of the 24 shots in the first period of Tuesday’s Senators-Sharks game were by Heatley (six), Michalek (four) and Cheechoo (two). Michalek and Cheechoo have combined for 17 goals and 24 points for Ottawa, while Heatley has put up 18 goals and 32 points so far for San Jose.
Puck drop --
It was a defensive struggle the last time these teams met. The Kings have a potential game-breaker in Anze Kopitar
, but he’s been quiet of late with no points in his last four games and just five assists in his last 10 games, falling from first to third in the League scoring race.