The Colorado Avalanche and Los Angeles Kings will play for the third and final time this season on Tuesday night at Pepsi Center. It's the second meeting of the season series in the Mile High City, where Colorado won the first matchup 4-1 on Nov. 15.
The teams have split the first two games of the 2016-17 series with the home team picking up the victory in each matchup. Colorado is 36-38-9 all-time against the Kings with a 22-17-1 record on home ice in the overall series.
Last Time Out
Colorado earned a point in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday night. The Avalanche trailed 2-0 entering the third period but rallied to force overtime. Mikko Rantanen scored early in the final stanza and Matt Duchene potted the Avs' first pulled-goalie marker of the season to bring free hockey to the fans at Pepsi Center. Calvin Pickard recorded 37 saves and Rantanen notched a goal for a second straight game.
The Kings are coming off a 1-0 loss to their Pacific Division rival, the Anaheim Ducks, on Sunday night. Peter Budaj made 28 saves, but the Kings were outshot 29-24 and unable to capitalize on two power-play opportunities.
Video: Previewing Colorado vs. Los Angeles
Last Time They Met
The Kings got the better of the last matchup, topping Colorado 5-0 on Feb. 1 at Staples Center. Peter Budaj had a 22-save shutout, and Jeff Carter scored twice while Dustin Brown added a goal and an assist. Los Angeles cashed in on one of its three man-advantage chances while the Avs were scoreless on four opportunities. Spencer Martin started in net and finished with 35 saves.
What to Watch
Kings in the Playoff Race
The Kings currently rank fifth in the Pacific Division and sit just two points out of the Western Conference's second wild card spot. They enter Tuesday's contest on a three-game losing streak and looking to gain an important two points in the rankings.
Colorado's defense suffered another blow on Monday when Nikita Zadorov fractured his ankle in practice and was ruled out for the remainder of the season. The Avs' leader in hits with 153, Zadorov's presence will certainly be missed, particularly against a physical team like the Kings, who lead the league in hits.
The rest of the Avalanche defensive group will be called upon to step up. While it remains unseen as to whether Colorado will look for defensive reinforcements in San Antonio, Cody Goloubef will likely draw into the lineup after being a healthy scratch for the last two contests.
Player to Watch
Colorado: Right wing Mikko Rantanen
Rantanen recorded a goal for his second consecutive game on Sunday and has now totaled 10 points (seven goals, three assists) over his last 12 outings. His 28 points rank ninth among NHL rookies and his 14.6 shooting percentage is third among all first-year players.
Los Angeles: Left wing Adrian Kempe
Kempe, the Kings' first-round pick in 2014, was recalled from the AHL's Ontario Reign on Wednesday and made his NHL debut the next night in L.A.'s 5-3 loss to Arizona. While he has yet to record a point, the speedy 20-year-old has received praise from the Kings coaching staff and has been playing on a line with Tyler Toffoli and Anze Kopitar.
Calvin Pickard will make his fourth consecutive start, his ninth in Colorado's last 10 games. It will be the first time the 24-year-old netminder has played against the Kings this season. He's 1-1-0 in his career against Los Angeles, with his last start coming in a 4-3 win at Staples Center on Jan. 27, 2016.
Tuesday night's clash between the Kings and Avs starts at 7 p.m. MT and will be televised live on Altitude TV. Altitude Sports Radio AM950 will carry the radio broadcast, which can also be heard online at ColoradoAvalanche.com.