Tonight marks the second and final meeting with the Penguins this season, Pittsburgh paid a visit to STAPLES Center on December 5, a game in which the Kings won 5-3. The Penguins are playing the first of a two-game home stand, they’re coming off of a 4-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday night. The Kings are playing the second of a six-game road-trip, they’re coming off of a 3-2 OT win over the Columbus Blue Jackets Tuesday night.
MERSCH’S MOMENT: The Kings recalled Michael Mersch from the AHL’s Ontario Reign on Wednesday, and he joined the team for Thursday’s practice in Pittsburgh. Mersch skated alongside Nick Shore and Dustin Brown on the Kings’ third line in his first regular season practice, and is expected to make his NHL debut tonight. Mersch was selected #110 overall by the Kings in the fourth round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. In 19 games with the Reign this season, Mersch posted 15 points (12G, 3A).
LINEUP: The Kings held an optional morning skate at the Consol Energy Center in anticipation of tonight’s game. Trevor Lewis, who did not travel with the team, and Kyle Clifford will both remain out of the lineup, Jonathan Quick left the ice first and will start in net. Michael Mersch will make his NHL debut. The Kings will skate with the line pairings they used during Thursday’s practice.
PEARSON – KOPITAR – GABORIK
LUCIC – CARTER – TOFFOLI
MERSCH – SHORE – BROWN
ANDREOFF – WEAL – NOLAN
(CLIFFORD – LEWIS)
MCNABB – DOUGHTY
MUZZIN – MARTINEZ
EHRHOFF – MCBAIN
QUICK IN THE PITT:
In the Kings’ previous visit to Pittsburgh’s Consol Energy Center on October 30 of last season, they suffered a 3-0 shutout loss. The Kings outshot the Penguins 36-23, but Marc-Andre Fleury stopped every puck fired his way. In the Kings’ three visits to the Penguins’ new building, which was erected prior to the 2010-’11 campaign, they’ve gone 1-1-1.
KING KILLER: Pittsburgh’s Chris Kunitz, who comes into the night riding a four-game point streak (1G, 6A), has been a lethal force for the Penguins in games against the Kings since joining the club during the 2008-'09 season. In eight games against the Kings in a Penguins uniform, Kunitz has amassed an astounding 10 points (7G, 3A), including a three-point performance (1G, 2A) earlier this season at STAPLES Center. Can the Kings keep the former Duck off the scoresheet tonight?
CARTER CATERS: Jeff Carter, who leads the Kings in points scored this season with 26 (11G, 15A), comes into the night with a seven-game point streak (2G, 5A) that dates back to November 23. Carter assisted on Drew Doughty’s opening goal in the Kings’ 5-3 win over the Penguins on December 5 and scored the game-tying goal with 1:27 to play in regulation Tuesday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Carter opened the scoring the last time the Kings won a game at Pittsburgh’s Consol Energy Center on March 27, 2014.
THE LAST TIME AROUND: In the Kings’ previous meeting with the Penguins on December 5, they beat the Penguins 5-3, headlined by four second period goals. Eight different Kings recorded a point in the win, Jake Muzzin finished with a game-high three points (1G, 2A). Former Penguin Christian Ehrhoff scored his first goal of the season, Jonathan Quick made 17 saves in the 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 Consol Energy Center for puck drop just after 4:00. As always, you can listen to Nick Nickson and Daryl Evans call the action live over the radio airwaves on AM 790 KABC.