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Kings visit Rangers in battle of two hot teams @NHLdotcom

KINGS (4-1-0) at RANGERS (5-1-0)

Season Series -- In their only meeting last season, the Rangers won 3-2 in overtime in Los Angeles. Michael Rozsival scored on a penalty shot and scored again in overtime to carry the Blueshirts. The Kings have won four of the last six meetings, including their last three visits to Manhattan; they haven't lost at Madison Square Garden since Nov. 28, 2000.

Big Story -- It's a battle of teams that have combined to win nine straight games after losing their season openers. The Rangers have won five straight and the Kings have won four in a row. This is New York's third game in four nights, while Los Angeles is playing its third game of a six-game road trip.

Team Scope:

Kings -- A lot of prognosticators were calling for big things from L.A. this season, and so far they've been right. But Ryan Smyth and the Kings aren't getting too far ahead of themselves.

"It's a great feeling, but we don't want to ride our highs too high and our lows too low," Smyth said after Monday's 2-1 win on Long Island. "We want to stay pretty even keel and enjoy our time."

After allowing six goals in a loss to the Coyotes to start the season, goaltender Jon Quick has allowed only 9 goals in 4 games, all wins.

"He is playing better every game," Kings coach Terry Murray said of Quick, who was named the NHL's Second Star of the Week.

Rangers -- There have been a lot of reasons for the hot start. Marian Gaborik (5 goals, 4 assists) has been worth every penny. The defense has been putting pucks in the net. But for coach John Tortorella, it's all about not letting up in the third period.

"We have had some good third periods ... and I think conditioning had something to do with it," Tortorella said after the Rangers' 7-2 win against Toronto on Monday.

The Rangers have outscored opponents in the third period 11-3 this season, and have won seven straight at Madison Square Garden dating to last season.

Who's Hot -- It's hard to tell if Gaborik is hot when he's been at the same temperature all season. If someone hasn't been cold, is there a way to tell if they're hot? For the Kings, Quick has won four straight, and Anze Kopitar has 4 goals and 6 assists out of the gate.

Injury Report -- The Rangers are living the good life and lack any major injuries. Kings defenseman Alec Martinez is nursing an upper-body injury and is questionable for Wednesday's contest.

Stat Pack -- The Rangers have received 10 goals from defensemen this season, which equals or eclipses the goal totals of five teams.

Puck Drop -- This is the first of a four-game, six-day road schedule for the Kings. After they leave New York, it's off to Detroit, Columbus and Dallas before finally returning home to Los Angeles.

-- Dave Lozo,

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