Two of the more physical teams in the Western Conference will clashThursday.
The Los Angeles Kings, who have won three of their past 10 games, open a five-game road trip against the St. Louis Blues at Scottrade Center (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN2). The Blues have won five in a row on home ice and enter Thursday two points behind the Chicago Blackhawks for the Central Division lead.
"I think every time a team plays us, I think because we have a bigger, physical team, that they try to play the same way and St. Louis has that team that can play that same way," Kings forward Mike Richards told LA Kings Insider on Wednesday. "They have some big guys, some skilled forwards and solid defense."
Here's a closer look at all the action Thursday:
Detroit Red Wings at New York Rangers -- The Red Wings wrap a five-game road trip that has seen them split the first four. Detroit has experienced trouble generating offense recently; the Red Wings have scored four goals in their past three games after being shut out 1-0 by the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday. New York is playing the finale of a four-game homestand. The Rangers won the first two games before a 2-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday. Brad Richards has eight points (three goals, five assists) during a six-game point streak.
Nashville Predators at Philadelphia Flyers -- Nashville plays its first game since acquiring goalie Devan Dubnyk from the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday in exchange for forward Matt Hendricks. If Dubnyk doesn't arrive in time the Predators will go with either Carter Hutton or Marek Mazanec in goal. The Flyers return to Wells Fargo Center for the first time since their 10-game home win streak was snapped Saturday with a 6-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Philadelphia avoided a three-game losing skid with a 4-3 win against the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday. Vincent Lecavalier scored the game-winner with 15 seconds remaining in regulation.
Montreal Canadiens at Ottawa Senators -- Montreal has won twice in its past five games. Much of that can be pinned on the fact that the Canadiens have not scored a power-play goal in their past 18 opportunities. Ottawa has won six of its past seven games and is 10-4-3 since Dec. 9 to work its way back into the Stanley Cup Playoff picture. The Senators allowed a total of one goal in the final two games of their four-game road trip, which saw them go 3-0-1.
New York Islanders at Tampa Bay Lightning -- New York had a seven-game road winning streak snapped Tuesday in a 4-2 loss to the Florida Panthers. The Islanders again likely will play without top-pair defenseman Travis Hamonic, who is day-to-day with an upper-body injury. Tampa Bay returns home after winning twice on a three-game road trip, including a 2-1 victory against the Rangers on Tuesday. Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman will appear in his 300th NHL game Thursday.
San Jose Sharks at Florida Panthers -- It's the first game between these teams since Dec. 3, 2011. The Sharks opened a three-game road trip in successful fashion Tuesday with a 2-1 shootout win against the Washington Capitals. It was the Sharks' eighth shootout win of the season. Florida is 4-1-2 in its past seven games. The Panthers scored three goals in the first period Tuesday en route to a 4-2 victory against the Islanders at BB&T Center.
Los Angeles Kings at St. Louis Blues -- The Kings open a five-game road trip without goalie Ben Scrivens, who was traded to the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday. Jonathan Quick is 3-1-1 since his return from injury and is coming off a 28-save, 1-0 win against the Vancouver Canucks on Monday. St. Louis has allowed two goals or fewer in the past eight games, with two shutouts. Jaroslav Halak is expected to start in goal. Defenseman Alex Pietrangelo has nine points during a six-game streak and forward T.J. Oshie has three two-point games since he was named to the United States team for the 2014 Sochi Olympics on Jan. 1.
Edmonton Oilers at Minnesota Wild -- The Oilers shook things up Wednesday, trading goalie Devan Dubnyk to the Nashville Predators for forward Matt Hendricks and later acquiring goalie Ben Scrivens from the Los Angeles Kings. Scrivens will be reunited with coach Dallas Eakins, who coached him with the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League before being hired by the Oilers last summer. Minnesota will play its eighth game in 15 days. Wild forward Dany Heatley has four points in the past three games.
Boston Bruins at Dallas Stars -- Loui Eriksson and Reilly Smith will play in Dallas for the first time since they were traded to Boston in the summer as part of the deal that brought Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley to the Stars. The Bruins have lost five of their past eight, while Dallas snapped a six-game losing streak Tuesday in a 5-2 win against the Edmonton Oilers.
New Jersey Devils at Colorado Avalanche -- With their 4-1 road victory against the Canadiens on Tuesday the Devils have earned a point in their past five games (3-0-2). New Jersey forward Ryane Clowe has a goal and six assists during a five-game point streak. Colorado has won six of its past eight games and has pulled within eight points of the first-place Chicago Blackhawks in the Central Division race. Tyson Barrie has two overtime goals in the past week, including the decisive goal in a 3-2 win at Chicago on Tuesday.
Winnipeg Jets at Calgary Flames -- It's Paul Maurice's second game behind Winnipeg's bench after winning in his debut as Jets coach Monday, when his club cruised to a 5-1 win against the Phoenix Coyotes. Dustin Byfuglien, who has been moved from defense to forward, has three goals and five assists in the past six games. Calgary returns home after splitting two road games. The Flames earned a 2-0 victory against the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday but then lost 4-2 loss to the Nashville Predators 24 hours later. Flames forward Lee Stempniak scored Tuesday, his first goal in 18 games.
Vancouver Canucks at Phoenix Coyotes -- Vancouver probably was a bit dazed when it got on the plane after allowing six power-play goals in a 9-1 loss to the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center on Wednesday. Nothing went right for the Canucks, who gave the Ducks 11 power plays. Phoenix is opening a three-game homestand. The Coyotes have lost four in a row.
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