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Kings look to put struggles in Buffalo to rest

by Alex Kinkopf / Los Angeles Kings


BUSINESS IN BUFFALO: Tonight marks the first of two meetings with the Sabres this season, Buffalo will pay a visit to STAPLES Center on February 27. The Sabres are returning home for a one-game stop in Buffalo upon completing a three-game road trip where they went 0-3-0, they’re coming off of a 4-3 loss to the Calgary Flames on Thursday night. The Kings are playing the third of a six-game road trip, they’re coming off of a 3-2 SO win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday night.

BUFFALO PRESENCE: There’s a bevy of Buffalo connection in the Kings’ locker room. “I think everyone knows that I love Buffalo, Jhonas Enroth told Jon Rosen following the morning skate. “So it’s nice to come back and it still felt like I was coming home in a way. But yeah, it was nice to come back.” Enroth is one of four ex-Sabres on tonight’s active Kings roster, along with Brayden McNabb, Jamie McBain and Christian Ehrhoff.

LINEUP: The Kings held an optional morning skate at the First Niagara Center in anticipation of tonight’s game. Jamie McBain, Derek Forbort, and Michael Mersch were the only players to attend, along with goaltender Jhonas Enroth – who is expected to start in net. Aside from the change in goal, the Kings will skate with the same lineup used Friday night in Pittsburgh.

FORWARDS

PEARSON – KOPITAR – GABORIK
LUCIC – CARTER – TOFFOLI
MERSCH – SHORE – BROWN
ANDREOFF – WEAL – NOLAN
(CLIFFORD – LEWIS)

DEFENSEMEN

MCNABB – DOUGHTY
MUZZIN – MARTINEZ
EHRHOFF – MCBAIN
(FORBORT)

GOALTENDERS

ENROTH
(QUICK)

JHONAS’ HOMECOMING: Selected by the Sabres #46 overall in the second round of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft spent parts of six season in a Buffalo uniform. In his tenure with the Sabres, Enroth appeared in 118 games, making 106 starts, posting a 38-56-14 record, registering a .910 SV% and a 2.92 GAA. Enroth will face his former club tonight, making his fifth start of the season, he carries a 3-1-0 record into the game, along with a .962 SV% and a 1.17 GAA.

BACK-TO-BACK: The Kings are playing their fifth set of back-to-back games this season, situations they’ve been delightfully successful in. They went 2-0-0 on October 22 & 23, 1-1-0 on November 2 & 3, 1-1-0 on November 22 & 23, and 2-0-0 on December 5 & 6. The Kings are 3-2-0 in the first game of back-to-back sets, and a perfect 4-0-0 in the second half.

SPECIAL EFFECTS: The Sabres come into the night with the NHL’s fourth-best power play, chiming in with a 22.8% success rate, but the leagues third-worst penalty kill, posting a 76.0% success rate. Can the Kings stay out of the box and execute on Buffalo’s struggling PK unit tonight?

STRUGGLES IN BUFFALO: The Kings have won only one game in Buffalo since the 1993-’94 season, they’ve posted a 1-11-1-1 mark when playing the Sabres in Western New York since then, the lone victory coming on February 21, 2003 when Ziggy Palffy and Bryan Smolinski scored two goals each in the 4-1 defeat of Buffalo. The Kings have lost six-straight games in Buffalo since then (0-5-1), can they snap that streak tonight?

THE LAST TIME AROUND: In two meetings against the Sabres last season, the Kings went 1-1-0. Each club swapped shutout victories, the Kings winning 2-0 at home on October 23, 2014, the Sabres 1-0 on December 9, 2014. The Kings faced then-Buffalo goaltender Jhonas Enroth in both games; Enroth stopped a combined 71 of the 73 shots the Kings fired away, including 39 in the Sabres’ shutout win.

WE’RE DOING IT LIVE: Catch the ‘Kings Live’ pregame show at 3:30 PM PST on FOX SPORTS WEST, followed with Bob and Jim on the live play-by-play call from the First Niagara Center for puck drop just after 4:00. As always, you can list to Nick Nickson and Daryl Evans call the action over the radio airwaves on AM 790 KABC.

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