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Montreal presents tough test, Kings off two days rest

by Alex Kinkopf / Los Angeles Kings


À MONTRÉAL: Tonight marks the first of two meetings with the Canadiens this season, Montreal will pay a visit to STAPLES Center on March 3 to complete the season series. The Canadiens are completing a three-game home stand where they’ve gone 1-1-0 thus far, they’re coming off of a 3-1 loss to the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday night. The Kings are playing the fifth of a six-game road trip where they’ve gone 2-1-1 thus far, they’re coming off of a 5-3 loss to the Ottawa Senators on Monday night.

TREVOR TRAVELING: Trevor Lewis, who has missed the last six games with an undisclosed upper-body injury, met the team in Montreal on Wednesday and participated in Thursday morning’s pregame skate. As if he’s healthy enough to draw into the lineup tonight or Saturday in Toronto, Lewis remarked: “I’ve got to talk to Darryl and see what he wants me to do, but hopefully at least get in one of the two games.”

LINEUP: The Kings held a morning skate the Bell Centre in anticipation of tonight’s game. Milan Lucic skated alongside Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik on the first line, Tanner Pearson joined Nick Shore and Dustin Brown on the third unit. Jeff Carter did not partake in the skate, but is said to be “OK”; Trevor Lewis centered Michael Mersch and Tyler Toffoli on the second line, but was likely filling in for Carter’s absence and will be a scratch tonight along with Derek Forbort. Jonathan Quick will start in net.

FORWARDS

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

DEFENSEMEN

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

GOALTENDERS

QUICK
(ENROTH)

REST ASSURED?: After playing three games in four nights, the Kings have benefited from two full days of rest. The club took some time to wind down at the Mont Temblant ski resort in Tremblant, QC, where they practiced at the local rink Wednesday afternoon, Arena de Sainte Jovite. “I think it was a really important part to this trip,” said Drew Doughty. “We were able to hang out with every single guy on the team, kind of regroup, regenerate, go to the spa, get massages, and just get fresh for tonight’s game.”

WHILE THEY’RE DOWN: The Canadiens, while sitting atop the Atlantic Division and second overall in the Eastern Conference, are going through what arguably has been their toughest stretch of the season to-date. Goaltender Carey Price has been out with an injury since November 26, and the Canadiens have more than doubled their season loss total in their past six games, where they’ve gone 1-5-0. Montreal has just two regulation wins in their previous nine games.

CONDON FOR CANADIENS: Rookie goaltender Mike Condon will get the start for Montreal tonight, the 18th of his NHL career. Condon brings a 9-5-3 record into the game, posting a .912 SV% and a 2.21 GAA. Condon, who didn’t suffer a regulation loss until his ninth start of the season, has lost each of his previous three starts.

STRUGGLES AT THE BELL: Much like Buffalo, the Kings don’t have a pretty history when playing in Montreal. Dating back to the 1991-’92 season, the Kings are 2-13-0 when visiting the Canadiens, their two wins coming on December 11, 1999 when Brad Chartrand scored two goals, and December 10, 2013 when the team erupted offensively to lay down a 6-0 drubbing. Since coming into the league prior to the 1967-’68 season, the Kings are 9-49-0-11 in the franchise’s 69 visits to Montreal.

THE LAST TIME AROUND: In two meetings with Montreal last season, the Kings posted a 1-1-0 record, losing 5-2 on December 12, 2014 at the Bell Centre, and winning 4-3 in a shootout on March 5, 2015 at STAPLES Center. Anze Kopitar (2G) led the Kings in goals scored against the Canadiens (2), Jake Muzzin (1G, 2A) in points registered (3). Jonathan Quick made just one start against Montreal last season, stopping 15 of the 18 shots he faced in the Kings’ shootout win.

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 the Bell Centre 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 at AM 790 KABC.

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