Tonight marks the second and final meeting with the Rangers this season and New York’s lone visit to STAPLES Center. The Rangers are playing the second of a three-game road trip through California; they’re coming off of a 2-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday night. The Kings are beginning a two-game home stand; they’re coming off of a 5-2 win over the Dallas Stars on Tuesday night.
LINEUP: The Kings held a morning skate at the Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo in anticipation of tonight’s game. No changes to the lines used Monday and Tuesday seem to have taken place; Andy Andreoff and Jamie McBain remained on the ice for extra work and are the presumed healthy scratches. Jonathan Quick left the ice first and will start in net.
LUCIC – KOPITAR – VERSTEEG
CLIFFORD – CARTER – BROWN
KING – SHORE – TOFFOLI
PEARSON – LECAVALIER – LEWIS
SCUDERI – DOUGHTY
MUZZIN – MARTINEZ
MCNABB – SCHENN
KINGS VS. ‘THE KING’: Following Antti Raanta’s 22-save performance in the Rangers’ 2-1 win over Anaheim Wednesday night, Henrik Lundqvist will return to New York’s net to face the Kings for the first time since Game 5 of the 2014 Stanley Cup Final. Lundqvist, who will be making his 55th start of the season, carries a 31-18-5 record into the night with a .922 SV% and a 2.35 GAA. Lundqvist is 3-4-1 in eight career regular season starts against the Kings, 4-5-4 including postseason.
THE LAST TIME AROUND: In the Kings’ first meeting with the Rangers this season on February 12 at New York’s Madison Square Garden, they won the game 5-4 in overtime. Anze Kopitar netted his third-career hat-trick, Tanner Pearson scored the game-winning goal 3:10 into overtime. Peter Budaj stopped 24 of 28 shots faced in the win. The Kings have dropped each of New York’s previous two regular season visits to STAPLES Center, their last win coming on February 2, 2010.
FIRST FACTOR: With 13 games remaining on the schedule, the Kings sit four points ahead of Anaheim for the top spot in the Pacific Division, two points behind Dallas and St. Louis for first in the Western Conference. “I mean, this is probably the best position we’ve been in since I’ve been here, just from a pure standings standpoint,” Dustin Brown said. “So now it’s just about getting our game in order for what we need to do.” The Kings have only finished atop their division once, winning the Smythe Division in 1990-’91.
WE’RE DOING IT LIVE: Catch the ‘Kings Live’ pregame show at 7:00 PM PT on Fox Sports West, followed with Nick Nickson and Jim Fox on the live play-by-play call from STAPLES Center for puck drop just after 7:30. As always, you can listen to Jon Rosen and Daryl Evans call the action over the radio airwaves on AM 790 KABC.