Red Wings-Kings Preview
GAME: Detroit Red Wings (17-6-2) at Los Angeles Kings (16-7-1).
TIME: Monday, 10:30 p.m. EST.
The Los Angeles Kings have been the surprise of the Pacific Division.
They'll try to prove they belong among the NHL's elite as they host the Detroit Red Wings to start a challenging five-game stretch.
Kings coach Andy Murray has made minor adjustments while his team climbed to the top of the Pacific Division. Most notably, a top line of Alexander Frolov, Craig Conroy and Pavol Demitra is backed by the veteran trio of Luc Robitaille, Jeremy Roenick and Derek Armstrong.
Also, the Kings' goaltending tandem of Mathieu Garon and Jason LaBarbera has kept them in most games.
"We're a brand new line and we're just starting to learn each other," said the 39-year-old Robitaille, who scored the game-winning goal in a 3-2 victory Saturday over the Chicago Blackhawks.
"I think if we keep playing together like that, we're going to find each other on the ice. When you play with guys like that you know they can always make a play - even if they're covered. So it's fun for a guy like me because it gives me an extra second to get open."
Frolov and Demitra scored the other goals for Los Angeles. Frolov has two goals and nine assists in a five-game points streak while Demitra has four goals and seven assists in that span. Conroy has assists in three straight games and 26 points in his last 18 games.
After this game, the Kings embark on a four-game trip to play the Blackhawks, Ottawa Senators, Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs. The three Northeast Division teams have a combined 45-17-7 record, a .652 winning percentage.
Additionally, the Kings have lost eight straight games to the Red Wings and are winless in nine straight meetings with Detroit since a 3-2 win Oct. 12, 2002.
The Red Wings may be breaking in a new goaltender to wrap up their three-game road trip. Starting netminder Manny Legace was placed on injured reserve with a sprained left knee suffered in Friday's loss at Anaheim.
Jimmy Howard was recalled from Grand Rapids of the AHL, where he went 4-1-1 with a 2.88 goals-against average and .899 save percentage. He may get his first start after backup Chris Osgood was shaky Saturday in a 7-6 win over the San Jose Sharks.
Brendan Shanahan bailed out Osgood, scoring twice in a 70-second span of the third period. Robert Lang had a career-high five assists for the Red Wings, who have six players with 20 or more points.
STANDINGS (through Nov. 27): Red Wings - 36 points, 1st place, Central Division. Kings - 33 points, 1st place, Pacific Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Red Wings - Shanahan, 15 goals; Pavel Datsyuk, 19 assists and 28 points; Chris Chelios, 58 PIM. Kings - Frolov, 13 goals; Demitra, 22 assists and 34 points; Sean Avery, 75 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through Nov. 27): Red Wings - Power play: 24.6 percent (36 for 146), 1st in NHL. Penalty killing: 83.6 percent (128 for 153), 8th. Kings - Power play: 16 percent (25 for 156), 21st. Penalty killing: 85 percent (125 for 147), 5th.
GOALTENDERS: Red Wings - Legace (13-4-0, 2 SO, 2.21 GAA); Osgood (4-2-2, 0, 3.25); Howard (no record). Kings - Garon (8-4-0, 0, 2.96); LaBarbera (8-3-1, 0, 2.59).
SEASON SERIES: Red Wings, 2-0.
LAST MEETING: Nov. 9; Red Wings, 5-4, OT. At Detroit, Lang scored 1:39 into overtime after the Red Wings blew a two-goal lead in a 1:53 span late in the third period.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Red Wings - 8-3-1 on the road; Kings - 10-3-0 at home.