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GAME DAY: Rangers Take Trip to Tinseltown

Lundqvist vs. Quick as Blueshirts Visit Rested Kings

by Michael Obernauer

RANGERS at KINGS, 10:30 p.m.
Staples Center
MSG2, 1050 AM

GAME DAY
LOS ANGELES --
"We know this is going to be a hard road trip, and we want a good start," Mika Zibanejad was saying after the Rangers' shutout win in Vegas on Sunday. "And we definitely got one." 

Step 2 comes Tuesday night in Downtown L.A., when the Rangers face the skidding Los Angeles Kings with the goal of extending the streaks of both teams.

The Rangers will be seeking their fourth straight victory away from home, having outscored opponents 12-2 during their three-game road winning streak. Overall the Blueshirts are 4-0-1 in their last five away games and have scored 20 goals in the five games, winning two of them by shutout.

The most recent was the "good start" of a 5-0 rout on the Vegas Strip, ending the Golden Knights' 52-game streak of scoring at least one goal, which had been the third-longest in the League. The Ranger attack in that game was spread all over the place: They got goals in each period, from five different players, three different lines, both power-play units, and points from all six defensemen.

In their last four road games, the Rangers have trailed in only once Thursday's in Columbus, and that for a total of 7 minutes and 9 seconds in the first period.

Tuesday's game will be the Rangers' 30th of the season. "We're creeping up on the halfway point here," David Quinn said on Monday, "and the thing I like is, I think we've gotten better and better."

Alexandar Georgiev started four of these last five road games, and now that Henrik Lundqvist has had a little extra time to resolve a minor issue in his back, the nets will belong to Lundqvist in L.A., his 15th career game against the Kings. The goaltender has earned points in four of his last six starts while posting a .920 save percentage.

Georgiev was stellar again from the start on Sunday, stopping all 17 Vegas shots in the opening period, from which the Rangers emerged leading 2-0. After that, "the thing I really liked is how we played in the second and third," Quinn said. "I thought our third period was the best period that we've had all year under the circumstances. Coming in with a lead, and then we played a real mature period. I thought we managed the game well.

"We really did clamp down. We played a much better game."

Among the biggest contributors in a game full of them for the visitors was Jacob Trouba, who led all skaters with 25:03 on ice and whose goal and assist gave him his fourth multi-point game of the season. Three of them have come in the last nine games, and overall Trouba has put up points in seven of his last 10, with 4-6--10 in that stretch. On Sunday, his goal that made it 3-0 was the dagger; his setup of Jesper Fast three minutes later made it a rout.

The Kings are out to avoid their first five-game losing streak of the season - their current four-game skid is their second one of those this year, and the fourth time they have lost at least three games in a row. They built a 2-0 lead in Calgary on Saturday but allowed the next four goals, and wound up losing for the 11th straight time on the road, tying a franchise record.

But they have played to a different tune on home ice, where they have seven wins in their last 10 games and points in eight of those (7-2-1). All of which points to the weight that Tuesday's game will carry for the Kings, it being their last home game before a six-game trip and eight of their next nine on the road.

Just as the Rangers did last week, the Kings on Saturday completed a stretch of eight games in 13 days, and they enter Tuesday's match after having consecutive off-days for the first time in more than three weeks. The team took Sunday off before practicing on Monday morning in El Segundo, where the Rangers practiced in the afternoon - "a lot of situational stuff," Coach Todd McLellan said, adding that "we haven't had that type of practice in two weeks, and we're probably not going to get that practice again for another two weeks."

Jonathan Quick was L.A.'s backup on Saturday and is expected to oppose Lundqvist tonight. Quick has won just once in his last six games despite facing no more than 25 shots in any of them.


PROJECTED LINEUPS

RANGERS
10 Panarin - 93 Zibanejad - 24 Kakko
20 Kreider - 72 Chytil - 16 Strome
48 Lemieux - 21 Howden - 89 Buchnevich
42 Smith - 14 McKegg - 17 Fast

76 Skjei - 8 Trouba
55 Lindgren - 23 Fox
18 Staal - 77 DeAngelo

30 Lundqvist
40 Georgiev

KINGS
19 Iafallo - 11 Kopitar - 23 Brown
77 Carter - 10 Amadio - 73 Toffoli
9 Kempe - 46 Lizotte - 51 Wagner
13 Clifford - 22 Lewis - 64 Luff

6 Ryan - 8 Doughty
15 Hutton - 3 Roy
56 MacDermid - 26 Walker

32 Quick
36 Campbell


NUMBERS GAME

The Rangers are 12-6-2 in their last 20 games.

The Blueshirts' 5-0 shutout of Vegas was the sixth time in 29 games this season they have scored five or more in a game. They scored five or more in 11 games last year.

Since falling behind 4-0 in Montreal on Nov. 23, the Rangers in road games have outscored their hosts 20-6.

Jacob Trouba has 11 points in 13 road games this season.

Brady Skjei's assist on Jesper Fast's second-period goal in Las Vegas was Skjei's 100th NHL point, all as a Blueshirt.

The Kings are third from the bottom of the League in both power play (12.6 percent) and penalty kill (74.0 percent). On Saturday in Calgary the Kings scored multiple power-play goals for the first time this season.

L.A. is 7-1 on home ice when scoring the first goal.

The Kings are fourth from the bottom of the League with 77 goals; 47 of them have come in 16 home games, and 30 in 15 road games.

Drew Doughty leads the NHL with 25:44 on ice per game.

Following Tuesday's game, the Kings are on the road for their next six games, eight of their next nine, and 20 of their next 28, which includes their Feb. 9 visit to Madison Square Garden.


PLAYERS TO WATCH

Tony DeAngelo, tied for fifth in the League in goals by a defenseman with seven, has points in all three games he has played for the Rangers against the Kings, including a goal and two assists in two visits to Staples Center.

Anze Kopitar leads L.A. with 29 points (11-18--29). His next point will be the 918th of his career, tying Wayne Gretzky for fourth place in Kings history.

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