KINGS (29-22-3) at CAPITALS (29-16-10)
TV -- FS-W (HD), CSN-DC (HD)
Last 10 --
Los Angeles 5-3-2; Washington 5-2-3
Season series --
This is the only meeting of the 2010-11 season between these teams. Washington coach Bruce Boudreau, once the bench boss for Los Angeles' AHL affiliate, has not defeated the Kings in three meetings.
Big story --
Will All-Star defenseman Mike Green
return to the lineup for the Capitals in their finale before a five-game road trip? Meanwhile, the Kings hit the halfway point during their 10-game journey away from Staples Center.
Los Angeles has won five of the past seven games (5-0-2), but there is more work to be done after a 2-10-0 slump threatened to derail a once promising season. Fans are getting their money's worth from the Kings during this road trip -- three of the four contests have needed extra time. There’s been a pretty simple pattern during the trip -- in the two games the Kings scored more than one goal, they have collected two points, and in the games they’ve haven’t they have settled for one.
"They were preseason favorites to maybe have a Cup run and I think they still have the team to do it," Boudreau said of the Kings. "If they win two or three games in a row, they're right back there."
It has been two steps forward and one step back a lot this season for Washington, and maybe never more so than the past week. Back-to-back victories against rivals Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh were followed by a 2-0 dud against San Jose, and questions about this team’s ability to score goals consistently aren’t going away. They’ve been shut out eight times in 34 games -- no other team has been blanked more this season.
The Capitals are 3-5-1 against the Western Conference and the next four contests are all against teams from the West. After this game, Washington will travel to Phoenix, Anaheim and San Jose next week.
Who's hot -- Justin Williams
has 4 assists in the past five games for Los Angeles. Goaltender Jonathan Bernier
has allowed only four goals in his past three starts. … Washington goalie Michal Neuvirth
was eight minutes away from posting back-to-back shutouts before he yielded goals on consecutive shots in the loss to San Jose. Still, Neuvirth has allowed only four goals in the past 10 periods he’s played.
Injury report --
Los Angeles forward Marco Sturm (knee) has been practicing this week but will not return to the lineup against the Capitals. … Defenseman Tom Poti
(groin) and right wing Eric Fehr (shoulder) are out for Washington. Green practiced Thursday and Friday and said he expects to play but must pass a neurological test first after getting hit in the ear with a shot Sunday against Pittsburgh. Boudreau said Green has not been diagnosed with a concussion despite a report that the defenseman has one.
Stat pack --
Washington has allowed eight goals in the past six games but has won only twice, yet the Capitals remain just three points behind Tampa Bay for the top spot in the Southeast Division. They have yielded more than three goals twice in the past 23 games but won only 11 times in that span.
Puck drop --
Bernier is expected to play against the Capitals after three straight starts for Jonathan Quick
. Neuvirth and Bernier were locked in a goaltending duel last season during the Calder Cup playoffs. The Hershey Bears, led by Neuvirth, defeated Bernier’s Manchester Monarchs in the Eastern Conference finals in six games before going on to capture the Calder Cup.
Neuvirth won back-to-back Calder Cups with Hershey, and took it as a personal challenge to best other top prospects Bernier, Boston's Tuukka Rask and Vancouver's Cory Schneider along the way.