The Colorado Avalanche hosts the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday in the second half of a back-to-back set between the clubs and the final contest of the regular season. With a victory of any kind, the Avalanche would win the West Division and Presidents' Trophy.
The Avalanche (38-13-4) earned a 6-0 victory in the first game of the consecutive day set on Wednesday as J.T. Compher notched his first career hat trick. Mikko Rantanen added three assists on the night while netminder Philipp Grubauer earned his seventh shutout of the campaign--tied for the most in the NHL--stopping all 18 shots he faced. Gabriel Landeskog tallied his 20th marker of the season and Andre Burakovsky registered an assist to extend his point streak to a season-long seven contests.
The Kings (21-27-7) were held scoreless for the fourth time this season. Goaltender Calvin Petersen allowed six goals on 37 shots in his 32nd start of the year.
Thursday's contest concludes the Avs' 10th and final back-to-back set of the campaign as the squad looks to sweep its fifth straight consecutive-day series.
Avalanche vs. Los Angeles Kings
Ball Arena | Denver, Colo.
COLORADO-LOS ANGELES CONNECTIONS
Avalanche assistant coach Ray Bennett spent seven years as an assistant coach for the Kings (1999-2006)… Kings general manager Rob Blake played parts of five seasons with Colorado, winning a Stanley Cup with the Avs in 2001… Los Angeles forward Brendan Lemieux was born in Denver and is the son of former Avalanche player Claude Lemieux, who played for the team from 1995-1999… Kings center Trevor Moore played at the University of Denver from 2013-2016… L.A. defenseman Christian Wolanin is the son of Craig Wolanin, who was on the Avs' Stanley Cup team in 1996.
The Avalanche owns a 45-44-11 record versus Los Angeles since the club moved to Denver in 1995-96, while boasting a 6-1-0 mark this season after earning five consecutive victories in the series. Mikko Rantanen's 11 points (four goals, seven assists) leads the squad in scoring against the Kings, with Andre Burakovsky (one goal, six assists) and Devon Toews (three goals, four assists) ranking tied for second on the roster. Rantanen has registered at least a point in each meeting with Los Angeles this season and Burakovsky has put together multi-point efforts in three of the five matchups he's skated in.
Thursday's matchup will be the eighth time the Avs and Kings have faced off this season and the fourth time the teams have met over the last week as Colorado has won each of the contests over the stretch (3-0-0). At Ball Arena, the Avalanche is 3-0-0 this campaign when hosting Los Angeles.
Jonas Johansson is expected to get the start in between the pipes in the second game of the back-to-back set. On Wednesday, Jayson Megna and Kiefer Sherwood were inserted into the lineup and played on the fourth line with Pierre-Edouard Bellemare. Samuel Girard retuned to game action after missing six games with a lower-body injury, while Jacob MacDonald was a healthy scratch.
Nathan MacKinnon will miss the season finale with a lower-body injury but is likely to be back for the start of playoffs. Carl Soderberg missed Wednesday's outing on a maintenance day and his status is unknown for the outing. Brandon Saad (lower body) and Bowen Byram (upper body) have both been skating, but it is still unknown when they will return to game action. Goaltender Devan Dubnyk has been in COVID-19 protocol since May 3, while both Matt Calvert (upper body) and Logan O'Connor (lower body) are out long term, with O'Connor recently having surgery. Erik Johnson (upper body) could possibly return later in the playoffs. Goaltender Pavel Francouz (lower body) is out for the remainder of the campaign.
SCOUTING THE KINGS
The Kings sit in the sixth spot in the West Division with 49 points (21-27-7) and are 1-6-0 against the Avs this season. On the road, the club owns a 12-13-2 record, with a 5-5-0 mark in its last 10. Anze Kopitar (13 goals, 37 assists), Drew Doughty (eight goals, 26 assists) and Dustin Brown (17 goals, 14 assists) have been the leading producers on the offensive end for Los Angeles.
Thursday's game completes the Kings' 10th and final back-to-back set of the season. In the second game of such sets, the club currently owns a 3-5-1 record, averaging 2.67 goals per game and allowing 3.33 notches per contest.
(OPPOSING) PLAYER TO WATCH: ANZE KOPITAR
The Los Angeles captain is in his 15th campaign in the NHL, all with the Kings, and recently registered his 1,000 NHL point on May 5, becoming just the fourth player to reach the milestone in a Kings jersey. In 1,128 games, Kopitar has compiled 346 goals and 654 assists and is currently ranked fourth all-time in Los Angeles history in points and goals, while slotting in at third for the franchise in assists. Against the Avs, the veteran has collected 17 goals and 35 helpers in 52 contests, which is tied for the most points against Colorado all time in an L.A. sweater with hall of famer Luc Robitaille (52).
Through 55 games this season, Kopitar leads the Kings with 50 points (13 goals, 37 assists) and is tied for 25th in the NHL in scoring. He has recorded the seventh-most points (tied) on the man advantage this year (23) and his 37 assists rank 17th in the league.
Devon Toews' seven points (three goals, four assists) when facing Los Angeles this season are the most the defenseman has against any opponent on the campaign. Versus the Kings, Toews has put together multi-point efforts in two consecutive contests (two goals, two assists), while recording at least a point in three straight matchups and five of seven this year.
The Avalanche will face off against the Kings for the eighth time this season, the seventh and final opponent the Avs have faced eight times this year. Regardless of the outcome, Colorado will finish the campaign with a winning record against every team in the West Division.
Gabriel Landeskog's 20 goals this season give him 218 all-time markers in an Avalanche sweater, surpassing Peter Forsberg for sole possession of the sixth-most tallies in franchise history. Landeskog has reached the 20-goal mark for the fourth consecutive campaign and the eighth time in his career.
With a win of any kind on Thursday, the Avalanche would clinch the top spot in the West Division and the Presidents' Trophy. The Avs are looking for their 10th division title since moving to Denver (12th in franchise history) and their third Presidents' Trophy (1996-97, 2000-01). The last time the club won its respective division was in 2013-14 when it took the Central Division title… In the second game of back-to-back sets this season, the Avs sport a 6-0-3 mark… Colorado has won a season-high eight straight games at home and is on a 16-game point streak at Ball Arena (15-0-1). It is the second-longest stretch in franchise history and one shy of tying the record of 17 contests (Jan. 20-April 6, 2003, 14-0-2-1)… The Avalanche has held its opponents to 20 shots or less in 14 games this season, the most in league. In such games, Colorado owns a 10-4-0 record… The Avs have nine skaters with 10 or more goals this season, which is tie with the Washington Capitals for the most in the NHL… The Avalanche is 21-4-2 at home and its 21 wins are tied for the second most on home ice in the league… Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen have each registered five three-plus point outings this season, trailing just Nathan MacKinnon's seven contests with three or more points for the most on the roster.