Los Angeles Kings forward Dustin Brown, who has missed the past two games with an illness, is a game-time decision Thursday against the Washington Capitals at Staples Center. Brown practiced Wednesday, but the Kings did not participate in line rushes Thursday morning.
The Kings enter the game on a three-game losing streak after winning eight straight. They will look to contain a Capitals team on a three-game winning streak that has them tied in points with the Columbus Blue Jackets for the second Eastern Conference wild-card spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with 12 games left on their schedule. The Blue Jackets own the tiebreaker with two games in hand.
Washington's potent offense has scored 11 goals during its winning streak, during which it has never trailed. Forward Alex Ovechkin, the NHL's leading goal scorer with 46, has two goals in his past three games, but hasn't scored in four career games against the Kings and is without a point in the past two.
"I mean, he's a shooter," Kings center Mike Richards told LAKingsInsider.com. "That's evident. He gets a lot of his opportunities on the power play, so we have to take that away. But he's a threat every time he's on the ice, and we have to know where he is and just have to understand that he's a shooter and [Capitals center Nicklas] Backstrom's the passer. So it's just a matter of trying to get the puck out of Backstrom's hands and not allow Ovechkin to get into scoring areas to shoot."
Goalie Jonathan Quick will start for the Kings in his third attempt to tie Rogie Vachon's franchise record of 171 wins.
Despite their recent run, the Capitals have struggled on the road with a 13-16-5 record and haven't won at Staples Center since Dec. 14, 2005. Goalie Jaroslav Halak will try to buck that trend when he makes his seventh straight start. Acquired prior to the NHL Trade Deadline from the Buffalo Sabres, Halak is 4-2-0 with a 2.35 goals-against average and .931 save percentage for Washington.
"He seems pretty calm in there," Capitals coach Adam Oates said. "I think as the players get a sense of that, I really thought he's done a good job of reading the play and in a short span of time understanding our system. I think he's done a really good job of that."
Here are the projected lineups:
Marcus Johansson - Jay Beagle - Alex Ovechkin
Evgeny Kuznetsov - Nicklas Backstrom - Troy Brouwer
Jason Chimera - Eric Fehr - Joel Ward
Dustin Penner - Chris Brown - Tom Wilson
Karl Alzner - John Carlson
Jack Hillen - Mike Green
Dmitry Orlov - Patrick Wey
Scratched: Connor Carrick, Casey Wellman
Injured: Brooks Laich (groin), Mikhail Grabovski (lower body), John Erskine (upper body), Aaron Volpatti (upper body)
Marian Gaborik - Anze Kopitar - Justin Williams
Dwight King - Mike Richards - Jeff Carter
Tanner Pearson - Jarret Stoll - Tyler Toffoli
Kyle Clifford - Trevor Lewis - Jordan Nolan
Willie Mitchell - Drew Doughty
Robyn Regehr - Slava Voynov
Matt Greene - Alec Martinez
Scratched: Jake Muzzin
Injured: Dustin Brown (illness/lower body)