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Kings' push for playoffs continues with Pittsburgh visit

by Alex Kinkopf / Los Angeles Kings



PENGUINS (37-18-9) at KINGS (31-21-12)

7:00PM PT, TV: FOX SPORTS WEST; RADIO: AM 790 KABC

PENGUIN CROSSING: Tonight marks the second and final meeting with the Penguins this season; the Kings fell to Pittsburgh 3-0 on October 30 at the Consol Energy Center. The Penguins have won five of their previous six games, and are playing the third of their four-game road trip; they’re coming off of a 5-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks on Friday night. The Kings are finishing their two-game home stand; they’re coming off of a 4-3 SO win over the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night.

SHUT ‘EM DOWN: Though these teams don’t see each other very often, Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby have racked up impressive career numbers when playing against the Kings. In six games against Los Angeles in their careers, Malkin has 10 points (6G, 4A), and Crosby has eight (1G, 7A). Chris Kunitz has also fared well against the Kings for the Penguins, recording seven points (6G, 1A) in six games played against Los Angeles.

LINEUP NOTES: Jonathan Quick left the ice first at today’s morning skate, so he is expected to get the starting nod. Andy Andreoff and Jamie McBain remained on the ice for extra work, so they are expected to be healthy scratches. Per Jon Rosen, who attended the Kings’ morning skate, here’s how tonight’s lines should shake out:

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

PLAYOFF PICTURE: Tonight proves to be another critical game for the Kings, who find themselves out of a playoff position heading into tonight’s contest. The Kings sit two points behind the Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks for the second and third seeds in the Pacific Division, and are also two points behind the Winnipeg Jets for the Western Conference’s second and final wild-card spot. The Kings have a game in hand on both the Canucks and the Jets; can they inch closer with a win tonight against the Penguins?

MARC-ANDRE: Thomas Greiss got the start for the Penguins in their 5-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks on Friday night, so Marc-Andre Fleury is expected to get the call for Pittsburgh tonight. Tonight will mark Fleury’s 51st start of the season; he’s posted a 29-14-6 record along with a .923 SV% and a 2.21 GAA. In seven career starts against the Kings, Fleury is 5-2-0.

LUC: The Kings will honor Luc Robitaille with their third and final Legends Night of the season. A brand-new statue will be unveiled outside STAPLES Center at Star Plaza across from LA Live in a ceremony that begins at 6:00 and will be broadcast LIVE on FOX SPORTS WEST. The Kings will wear their vintage Forum Blue and Gold uniforms tonight for the final time this season.

THE LAST TIME AROUND: In Pittsburgh’s previous visit to STAPLES Center on January 30 of last season, the Kings fell to the Penguins 4-1. Evgeni Malkin got the Penguins on the board less than a minute into the contest, and Anze Kopitar responded to tie the game midway through the first. Pittsburgh answered with three more goals to secure a 4-1 win. Jonathan Quick was pulled from the game after allowing three goals on seven shots faced. It was the Kings’ first ever regulation loss to the Penguins at STAPLES Center; the Kings are 4-1-2 against Pittsburgh on home ice since STAPLES Center opened prior to the 1999-’00 campaign.

ROCKET MAN

WE’RE DOING IT LIVE: Catch KINGS LIVE pregame coverage at 6:00PM PT on FOX SPORTS WEST, where they will broadcast the unveiling of Luc Robitaille’s statue from Star Plaza. Bob and Jim will be on the live play-by-play call from STAPLES Center for puck drop just after 7:00.

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