LIGHTNING (7-2-2) at KINGS (8-3-0)
: Sun, Fox Sports-West.
: Tampa Bay 6-2-2; Los Angeles 7-3-0.
: This is the lone meeting between the teams. They last faced each other on Nov. 14, 2009, when Los Angeles earned a 2-1 shootout victory at St. Pete Times Forum. Anze Kopitar
had the shootout winner for the Kings.
: Guy Boucher hasn't needed much time to turn things around in Tampa Bay. Despite entering this season with just one year of professional experience (2009-10 with AHL Hamilton), Boucher has guided the team to seven wins in its first 11 games. The Lightning picked up another point in the standings Wednesday night in a 3-2 overtime loss at Anaheim.
: They've played 11 games so far this season, and the Lightning have earned points in 9 of them. While they were just 4:20 away from earning a victory on Wednesday night -- Kyle Palmieri erased a 2-1 lead at 15:40 of the third period -- the Lightning still managed to get a point in their overtime loss to the Ducks.
"We expected a tough game," center Steven Stamkos
said. "They're struggling as of late and they're coming back home. They want to come out strong and I think they did that. It just took us too long to wake up. Our goaltender played great, made some big saves and kept us in the game. We got a point, but it wasn't our best effort."
: Los Angeles, which is off to a terrific start, received some good news late Tuesday night when it learned that world-class defenseman Drew Doughty
will return to the lineup on Thursday against the Lightning. Doughty, a Norris Trophy finalist last season, missed the last six games due to a concussion.
"I've felt good for a little while now," Doughty told lakingsinsider.com. "It was just making sure I was perfectly ready to play. You don't want to mess around with stuff like that, so now that I've been good for a number of days, I'm really looking forward to playing."
: Stamkos scored his team-leading 10th goal of the season for Tampa Bay on Wednesday night. He's now tied for the NHL lead with Chicago's Patrick Sharp. He has 77 goals since Feb. 17, 2009 -- the most in the NHL. … Kings winger Justin Williams
has 11 points (5 goals, 6 assists) in 11 games, while Jarret Stoll
has 10 points (4 goals, 6 assists) and a plus-6 rating.
: Lightning forward Dominic Moore
(groin) and defenseman Matt Smaby (ankle) are day-to-day, while Simon Gagne
(neck) is out. … Scott Parse
is also returning for L.A. on Thursday, which means the Kings are boasting a healthy lineup.
: Lightning forward Mattias Ritola
scored his first career goal on a wraparound in the second period against Phoenix last Saturday. He became the second Lightning rookie in a week's time to score a first career goal, joining Dana Tyrell
, who scored on Wednesday against Pittsburgh.
: "It's good to have some choices now. When we looked at our depth chart in the summertime and penciled players in places, we've got all of our top players now available to perform. Now we'll be able to get through some games and see where they all fit. Hopefully we find the right chemistry and keep things going in the right direction." -- Kings coach Terry Murray