TAMPA BAY TODAY:
Tonight marks the first of two meetings with the Lightning this season, and the only visit to Tampa Bay’s Amalie Arena. The Lightning will make their lone visit to STAPLES Center on December 6 to complete the season series. Tampa Bay is finishing a three-game home stand, where they’ve gone 2-0-0 so far; they’re coming off of a 5-0 win over the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday. The Kings are finishing a five-game road trip, where they’ve gone 2-2-0 so far; they’re coming off of a 3-1 win over the Florida Panthers Monday night.
LINEUP: The Kings held a morning skate at Amalie Arena in anticipation of tonight’s game. Derek Forbort and Jordan Weal stayed on the ice for extra work, so those two are expected to be tonight’s healthy scratches. Jonathan Quick was the first goaltender to leave the ice and is presumed to start in goal.
PEARSON – KOPITAR – GABORIK
LUCIC – CARTER – TOFFOLI
ANDREOFF – SHORE – BROWN
CLIFFORD – LEWIS – NOLAN
MCNABB – DOUGHTY
MUZZIN – MARTINEZ
EHRHOFF – MCBAIN
KNOWING TAMPA: Spending eight seasons in the Eastern Conference in Boston, Milan Lucic has a lot of experience playing Tampa Bay. “A lot of speed, a lot of skill, a lot of guys that can make plays,” Lucic told Jon Rosen Wednesday morning. “Obviously they have one of the best goal scorers in Stamkos, he does a really good job of doing his job, but it’s a great supporting cast there as well, and I think sometimes it gets overlooked.” Stamkos comes into the night with 17 points (11G, 6A) through 22 games, and is coming off of a three-point (2G, 1A) performance against Anaheim.
DEFENSE, BEN GOOD: Ben Bishop will start for the Lightning tonight, he’s posted a 8-7-2 record with a .925 SV% and a 2.05 GAA through 17 starts this season. Tampa Bay comes into the night with the NHL’s second-ranked defense, allowing just 2.18 goals per game. Can the Kings beat Bishop, Tampa Bay’s defense tonight?
BABY VS BLOGGER: Who does TRH baby pick to win tonight’s game? Read the entire Royal Half Gameday Preview HERE!
THE REGROUP: The Lightning are coming off of a season that saw them stretch all the way to the Stanley Cup Final, winning the Eastern Conference Championship while playing 26 postseason games. Tampa Bay has started off the season with a 10-9-3 record, good for fifth-place in the Atlantic. The Kings know all too well about regrouping after a long playoff run. “I mean it’s definitely hard, mentally and physically”, Dustin Brown said of the year-after process. “You do what you can in those couple of months, but it’s probably more challenging, from a mental standpoint, as a player you just keep telling yourself keep going, keep going, keep going. Part of being a successful team is you have to learn how to play the year after and it’s not an easy thing to do, but that’s when you try to lean on each other during tough times.”
THE LAST TIME AROUND: The Kings swept their season series against the Lightning last season, winning 4-2 on February 3, 2015 at Amalie Arena, and 3-2 on February 16, 2015 at STAPLES Center. In their previous visit to Tampa Bay, that 4-2 win, the Kings scored three first period goals, including one from Drew Doughty with :0.4 seconds left on the clock. Since the Lightning broke into the NHL prior to the 1992-’93 season, the Kings are 8-6-1 when playing Tampa Bay on the road.
WE’RE DOING IT LIVE: Catch the ‘Kings Live’ pregame show at 4:00 PM PST on FOX SPORTS WEST, followed with Bob and Jim on the live play-by-play call from Amalie Arena for puck drop just after 4:30. As always, you can listen to Nick Nickson and Daryl Evans call the action over the radio airwaves on AM 790 KABC.