|Much like last night’s opponent in San Jose, the Los Angeles Kings are in a battle for playoff position in the Western Conference and have 32 games remaining to solidify their seeding and potentially grab a hold of the Pacific Division lead down the stretch. |
Though they have mightily struggled to score goals throughout the season, the Kings find themselves in the thick of the race yet again. Coupled with the team’s resurgent play under new head coach Darryl Sutter, the Kings have received a boost with the return of Mike Richards a few weeks ago. He’s the team’s second-leading goal-scorer and one of their most dangerous threats at both ends of the rink – and brings a presence that few players on the Los Angeles roster can replicate.
Los Angeles has picked up points in eight of its past 10 games (5-2-3) but hasn’t played since January 23, so the long layoff will test the Kings as they come out of the gate tonight at STAPLES Center. The Sharks made it a point to ensure a good start last night, and two goals in the first 10 minutes of the game helped them on the way to a win.
For the Blue Jackets, they will be looking to make amends for last night’s game which did not sit well with interim coach Todd Richards. He referred to at least three of the six goals surrendered as “self-inflicted goals” and said the Blue Jackets were far too careless with the puck, allowing the Sharks to get in on the forecheck and cause havoc in the Columbus end of the ice.
Goaltending has been a strength of the Kings, and on many nights this season, their play between the pipes has made up for inconsistency putting the puck in the net. Jonathan Quick recently returned from a well-deserved All-Star Game appearance and is No. 1 in the NHL with six shutouts on the season, posting a 1.93 goals-against average and a .934 save percentage.
| || || |
|Nash (17) ||Kopitar (15) |
|Prospal (21) ||Kopitar (29) |
|Nash (33) ||Kopitar (44) |
|Dorsett (118) ||Clifford (78) |
|MacKenzie (+4) ||Williams (+6) |
|Sanford (8-11-4) |
|Quick (21-12-9) |
|Sanford (2.57) ||Quick (1.93) |
|Sanford (.912) ||Quick (.934) || |
|• After playing at San Jose last night, the Blue Jackets continue a six-game road trip tonight at Los Angeles. Columbus is 0-3-1 so far on the trip, which includes a final stop at Anaheim on Friday. |
• C Ryan Johansen scored his ninth goal of the season Jan. 24 at Tampa Bay. He ranks 10th among NHL rookies in goals (nine) and is 12th in points (17). He has goals in two of the last five games after being held goalless the previous nine games. He has 3-3-6 the last 14 games after being held pointless the previous 10 games.
• R.J. Umberger registered his first multi-point game in nine games with a pair of assists Jan. 24 at Tampa Bay. He last had a multi-point outing was Dec. 22 at Nashville. The assists also snapped a skid that saw him go five games without a helper. He has collected 2-8-10 the last 13 games after being held to 2-1-3 the previous nine games.
•Tonight marks the third of four meetings overall and second of two meetings at STAPLES Center this season between the Blue Jackets and Kings. Columbus is 19-20-3 all-time against Los Angeles, including a 8-12-1 mark at STAPLES Center. Los Angeles has won seven of the last nine meetings between the clubs.