KINGS (39-26-15) at FLAMES (44-29-7)
TV: FS-W, SNW
CALGARY -- The Los Angeles Kings have plenty of experience with playing in elimination games, but not in the regular season.
The defending Stanley Cup champions will put their season on the line against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome on Thursday (9 p.m. ET; FS-W, SNW) as they face elimination from Stanley Cup Playoff contention.
"We're definitely prepared for the situation," Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said. "We've played many big games like this. We have to treat them the same way. This is our Game 7, I guess you can say. If we don't win, we're going home. If we win, we have a chance to make the playoffs. We're going to treat it as a Game 7. It's must-win. Everyone needs to bring their best.
"Just being there before helps. We have a lot of guys in this room who, when those kind of games come up, they rise to the occasion and they play their best hockey. I know those guys in this room tonight are going to do those things and play their best hockey. When we have our top guys playing our best everyone else follows. That's when we're playing our best."
Los Angeles won three Game 7s en route to capturing the Stanley Cup last season, their second championship in three years.
But the Kings could become the first defending champion to miss the playoffs the following season since the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006-07 if they lose to Calgary in regulation. The Kings trail the Flames by two points for third place in the Pacific Division and are three behind the Winnipeg Jets for the second wild card from the Western Conference.
There's plenty of inspiration on Calgary's end to oust their Pacific Division foe.
Win, and the Flames punch their playoff ticket for the first time since 2009.
"It's pretty special," said Calgary forward Joe Colborne, whose Flames have taken three of four meetings against the Kings this season, including two in overtime. "We haven't done anything yet. It's a lot of nerves, a lot of excitement. It's going to be a fun game out there tonight. A lot of energy; a lot of nerves. It's going to be a tough one.
"If you don't have those nerves then you're in the wrong sport. This is the best time of year. This is what you work for all those summer runs and bikes and workouts and stuff. That's all thinking about games like this. It will be no problem getting up for a game like this."
The fact Calgary can not only clinch but eliminate the defending Cup champions hasn't slipped Colborne's mind, either.
"Even more than obviously just for us to get into the playoffs is the main thing, but just knowing you won't have to play them for a seven-game series would be especially nice," he said, "and I think there are a ton of teams that would be thanking us if we could do that."
Here are the projected lineups:
Marian Gaborik - Anze Kopitar - Justin Williams
Dwight King - Jeff Carter - Tyler Toffoli
Trevor Lewis - Jarret Stoll - Dustin Brown
Kyle Clifford - Nick Shore - Jordan Nolan
Jake Muzzin - Drew Doughty
Robyn Regehr - Alec Martinez
Brayden McNabb - Matt Greene
Scratched: Jamie McBain, Andy Andreoff, Mike Richards
Injured: Andrej Sekera (lower body), Tanner Pearson (lower body)
Johnny Gaudreau - Sean Monahan - Jiri Hudler
Mason Raymond - Mikael Backlund - Joe Colborne
Brandon Bollig - Markus Granlund - Josh Jooris
Michael Ferland - Matt Stajan - David Jones
Kris Russell - Dennis Wideman
TJ Brodie - Deryk Engelland
David Schlemko - Corey Potter
Scratched: Tyler Wotherspoon, Brandon Bollig, Drew Shore, Sam Bennett
Injured: Ladislav Smid (upper body), Paul Byron (lower body), Mark Giordano (torn biceps tendon), Raphael Diaz (lower body), Karri Ramo (lower body), Lance Bouma (undisclosed)
Status update: The Kings held an optional skate Thursday. … Calgary recalled Ortio from Adirondack of the American Hockey League and reassigned goalie Brad Thiessen to Adirondack. Bouma, who sustained an injury in Calgary's 3-2 win against the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday, is day-to-day.
Who's hot: Though pointless in Los Angeles' 4-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday, Carter has two goals and three assists in his past four games. … Monahan has two goals and three assists during a five-game point streak for Calgary.