KINGS (25-18-10) at LIGHTNING (23-23-5)
TV: NBCSP (HD), TSN2
Last 10: Los Angeles 4-3-3; Tampa Bay 6-3-1
Season series: This is the lone meeting between the teams this season. They last faced off Nov. 4, 2010, when Los Angeles earned a 1-0 victory on Justin Williams' third-period goal at Staples Center. Jonathan Quick stopped 24 shots for the shutout. The Kings also notched a 2-1 shootout decision at St. Pete Times Forum in Nov. 14, 2009, when Anze Kopitar connected for the shootout winner.
Big story: The Kings have played 53 games this season and Quick has started 44 of them -- tied for sixth-most in the League. Quick was given his first night off in 10 games Saturday in a 2-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes. Backup Jonathan Bernier, who went a personal-high 25 games between starts, could see one more start over the remaining four games on the road. Still, Kings coach Darryl Sutter talks as if Quick will be between the pipes more often than not down the stretch. Quick (22-13-9, 1.91 GAA, .934 save percentage) set a franchise record in 2009-10 after playing 72 regular-season games. He's 10-3-5 in his last 18 games, with a 1.51 GAA and .946 save percentage.
"It's about winning," Sutter said. "We're in a college schedule now, right? Thirty-two games. It's about winning hockey games. We've got to make the playoffs. It doesn't bother me who plays. It's about winning games."
Kings: The Kings still have six more sets of back-to-back games over the final 10 weeks of the regular season. While the team's power-play, ranked 21st in the League (15.8 percent), has improved under Sutter, inconsistencies continue on offense. Offseason acquisition Mike Richards has no points in his last eight games, Justin Williams has one goal and five points in six games and captain Dustin Brown has one assist in his last five. Anze Kopitar, who leads the team with 46 points, has two goals and three points in six games.
Lightning: Rookie left wing Brett Connolly returned to the lineup Saturday in a 6-3 victory over the Florida Panthers after sitting out as a healthy scratch for the first time this season in Thursday's 2-1 overtime loss to Winnipeg. Connolly, the sixth pick of the 2010 Entry Draft, saw just 7:10 of ice time as he learns to adjust to a more defensive role. Connolly hasn't notched a point in 18 games and hasn't scored in 22 games.
"Every player that is 19 years old goes through what he is going through right now," coach Guy Boucher said. "We know he is going to be a terrific player. He has tremendous skills, he's got great speed … but this is the NHL and there are a lot of things guys have to learn and 99 percent of the time that's being reliable defensively."
Who's hot: Tampa Bay's Martin St. Louis is on a season-high nine-game point streak (six goals, 10 assists). St. Louis has 7 goals and 20 assists in his last 19 games.
Injury report: Kings forward Simon Gagne (concussion) was put on injured reserve Dec. 28 and remains out indefinitely. … The Lightning are without forwards Adam Hall (upper body) and Dana Tyrell (knee), while Ryan Malone (upper body) is day-to-day. Defensemen Mattias Ohlund (knee) is out and Marc-Andre Bergeron (upper body) is day-to-day.
Stat pack: Tampa Bay center Steven Stamkos has 18 goals and 27 points in his last 22 games.
Puck drop: The Kings are 10-4-6 since Sutter replaced Terry Murray on Dec. 20, earning 26 of a possible 40 points. … Tampa Bay is in the midst of a 6-for-60 stretch on the power play. The Lightning rank 26th in the League with a 13.7-percent power-play efficiency.