KINGS (28-19-3) at RED WINGS (25-17-8)
Los Angeles 6-4-0; Detroit 5-3-2
Third of four meetings this season. Detroit has captured the first two, 5-2 at Joe Louis Arena on Oct. 15 (defensemen Jonathan Ericsson
, Brian Rafalski
and Nicklas Lidstrom
all had two-point nights, combining for two goals and four assists) and 2-1 at the Staples Center on Jan. 7 (Darren Helm
scored with just 17.7 seconds left in regulation). Chris Osgood and Jimmy Howard
each have a win in goal for the Red Wings.
It's been almost eight years since the Kings last found themselves in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and it's been almost as long since they enjoyed any sort of sustained success against the Red Wings. Detroit has won 22 of the 24 meetings since Feb. 24, 2003. The last victory for Los Angeles came nearly two years ago, on Feb. 7, 2008. If this is, indeed, a breakthrough season for the Kings, ending this bugaboo would be a good way of showing it.
The next time Los Angeles finds itself in a shootout, it's safe to say the Kings will feel comfortable. After a 4-3 win over Buffalo on Thursday that came via the penalty-shot tiebreaker, they have taken four straight and seven of their last eight. Surprisingly, that still hasn't changed coach Terry Murray's opinion of the event.
"I hate the shootout, personally," he said. "I had nothing to do with it. I'm standing at the back of the bench and I've got my arms crossed and I'm totally out of it. That's the one thing I hate about it. But the fans love it. Not one fan left. Everyone was standing up, and we got two points."
Last weekend was frustrating for Detroit, which lost shootouts on consecutive days against Dallas and Chicago. Then the Red Wings failed to close out a game they led in Washington, allowing two goals 46 seconds apart and falling 3-2 to the Capitals. But they overcame adversity Thursday night in Minnesota, coming back after blowing a 3-1 third-period lead to defeat the Wild 4-3 in an eight-round shootout.
"They scored two goals -- one off the glass tonight and then one with a pop fly that he grabbed and shot in our net," coach Mike Babcock said in assessing the Minnesota rally. "Those were pretty fortunate bounces. Even though we gave up the two-goal lead it wasn't like they came out and tilted the rink."
Kings forward Wayne Simmonds has two goals and two assists during a four-game points streak. … Red Wings forward Patrick Eaves
has scored goals in two of the last three games.
Los Angeles defenseman Davis Drewiske
(shoulder) and forwards Justin Williams
(leg/ankle) and Andrei Lokitonov (shoulder) are on injured reserve. … Detroit defensemen Niklas Kronwall
(sprained MCL) and Andreas Lilja (post-concussion symptoms) and forwards Johan Franzen
(knee), Jason Williams (fibula) and Tomas Holmstrom
(foot) are on injured reserve.
Quick has yet to break through against the Wings, going 0-5-0 with a 3.43 goals-against average in his career. … Detroit is 6-1-1 in its last eight at the Joe, with Lidstrom (two goals, six assists) and Todd Bertuzzi
(five goals, two assists) leading the charge.
These two teams had been battling for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference before a freefall by Calgary bumped the Kings and Red Wings into seventh and eighth, respectively, and dropped the Flames into ninth. Still, with just a single point separating these teams, Saturday's game shapes up as a pivotal one.