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Another critical task for Kings in hosting Canadiens

by Alex Kinkopf / Los Angeles Kings



CANADIENS (41-18-5) at KINGS (30-21-12)

7:30PM PT, TV: FOX SPORTS WEST; RADIO: AM 790 KABC

BIENVENUE À LOS ANGELES: Tonight marks the second and final meeting with Montreal this season; the Kings fell to the Canadiens 6-2 on December 12 at the Bell Centre. The Canadiens are playing the third of their four-game road trip through California; they’ve posted a 0-2-0 record thus far and are coming off of a 3-1 loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday night. The Kings are kicking off a quick two-game home stand tonight at STAPLES Center; they’re coming off of a 5-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday night.

LINEUP NOTES: Jonathan Quick left the ice first at today’s morning skate in El Segundo, so he is expected to start. Andy Andreoff and Jami McBain remained on the ice for extra work, so they are expected to be healthy scratches. Per Jon Rosen, who was on hand at Toyota Sports Center this morning, here’s how tonight’s lineup should pan out:

GABORIK – KOPITAR – LEWIS
KING – CARTER – TOFFOLI
BROWN – STOLL – WILLIAMS
CLIFFORD – SHORE – NOLAN
(ANDREOFF)
----------------------
REGEHR – DOUGHTY
MUZZIN – GREENE
MCNABB – SEKERA
(MCBAIN)

PLAYOFF PICTURE: Coming into the night, the Kings find themselves out of the Western Conference playoff picture. The Kings are tied with the Calgary Flames for the Pacific Division’s third and final playoff spot; both clubs have 72 points apiece, but the Flames own the tiebreaker. The Kings are three points behind the Minnesota Wild for the Western Conference’s second and final wild-card playoff spot. Calgary plays Boston tonight, while the Wild take on the Capitals. Can the Kings threaten to slide back into the playoff mix with a win tonight?

WESTSIDE CONNECTION: The Canadiens come into the night having lost two straight games in California; Monday night a 4-0 loss to the San Jose Sharks, and Wednesday night a 3-1 loss to the Anaheim Ducks. Montreal, though, has built a very impressive road record to date, posting a 19-11-1 mark when playing away from the Bell Centre this season. Can the Kings keep the Canadiens winless in California this season with a win tonight?

PRICE CHECK: It is uncertain whether or not the Kings will see Carey Price, who made 44 saves against the Kings on December 12, in net for the Canadiens tonight. Price has started both games for Montreal in California this week, including last night in Anaheim; he’s made 63 saves on 69 shots faced against the Sharks and Ducks, while only getting one goal of support. Price is first in the NHL in wins (36) and GAA (1.92). Montreal’s backup Dustin Tokarski has started 12 games this season, posting a 5-5-2 record. Tokarski has never faced the Kings, while Price is 4-1-0 in five career starts against Los Angeles.

THE LAST TIME AROUND: In Montreal’s previous visit to STAPLES Center on March 3 of last season, the Kings won 2-1. Jake Muzzin got the Kings on the board less than two minutes into the game, and Jeff Carter buried the game-winner with a power play goal early in the second period. Jonathan Quick made 17 saves in the win. The Kings snapped the Canadiens’ four-game win streak at STAPLES Center in that win; the Kings are 3-5-0 against Montreal when playing at home since STAPLES Center opened prior to the 1999-’00 campaign.

CANADIAN CARTER

WE’RE DOING IT LIVE: Catch the KINGS LIVE pregame show at 7:00 PM PT on FOX SPORTS WEST, followed with Bob and Jim on the live play-by-play call from STAPLES Center for puck drop just after 7:30.

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