Kings look to continue playoff surge vs. Maple Leafs
Tuesday, 01.26.2010 / 7:00 PMKINGS (29-19-3) at MAPLE LEAFS (17-26-10)
Last 10 --
Los Angeles 6-4-0; Toronto 2-7-1
Season series --
The Leafs and Kings will meet for the first and only time this season. The Kings will be looking for their first win in Toronto since Nov. 12, 2002 -- a 4-3 overtime victory. The Leafs scored a 3-1 victory over the Kings in the only meeting last season, scoring three times in the third period while receiving a 32-save performance by Vesa Toskala.
Big Story --
The Kings are riding a two-game winning streak, including a 3-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday. The Leafs, meanwhile, are probably happy to be returning home after finishing 0-3-0 during a road swing against Southeast Division foes. The Leafs were outscored, 9-5, in losses to the Thrashers, Lightning and Panthers.
In an effort to spark his team, coach Terry Murray moved top-line center Anze Kopitar
on a line with grinders Brad Richardson
and Wayne Simmonds in the victory over the Red Wings, and the plan worked. Kopitar, who had produced just one goal in his previous five games, connected for a goal, two assists and a plus-3 rating and his line combined for seven points. The Kings rallied from an early two-goal deficit to score their fourth victory in their last five contests.
Maple Leafs --
With his team sitting 14th in the Eastern Conference -- 11 points behind eighth-seeded Montreal -- don't be surprised if Toronto GM Brian Burke has a few tricks up his sleeve prior to the Feb. 13-14 Olympic break roster freeze.
"We are ready to move if a team steps up," Burke said. "If I could make a deal today that could propel us into the playoffs, I'd make it. Obviously, with each loss (2-0 in Florida on Saturday) the chances are more remote, but that's still our goal. People can laugh all they want when they see this interview, but that was our goal at the start of the season and it's still our priority.
"We are preparing to be a buyer or a seller. We're dealing with that internal dynamic, too. Who is going to sign and if they want to sign and stay here at a reasonable price. We've evaluated our internal assets, now we're evaluating the assets of teams that are likely to step up and offer us someone."
Who's Hot --
Kings goalie Jonathan Quick
stopped 31 of 33 shots in a 3-2 victory over the Red Wings on Saturday to notch his fourth victory in five starts, including triumphs over Buffalo, Boston and Anaheim. For the season, Quick, who was named one of the three goalies to represent Team USA in the Winter Olympics, is 27-16-3 with a 2.59 goals-against average and .906 save percentage.
Injury Report --
The Kings are without forwards Andrei Loktionov
(shoulder) and Justin Williams
(ankle) and defenseman Davis Drewiske
(shoulder). … For Toronto, defenseman Mike Komisarek
(shoulder) is expected to miss one more game while defenseman Mike Van Ryn (knee) is out for the season. Center Mikhail Grabovski
(wrist) might return early next month.
Stat Pack --
Maple Leafs wing Phil Kessel
had his seven-game point streak -- the longest by a Toronto player in two years -- end in a shutout loss to Florida on Saturday. Kessel did manage 5 shots on 20 shifts.
Puck Drop --
One area the Kings need to shore up is specialty teams. The club went 0-for-3 on the power play -- while managing just four shots -- for a second consecutive game on Saturday and are now 0-for-27 with the man advantage in their last five games. The Kings also allowed one power-play goal, on three chances, but earned the victory.