NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Thursday, May 8th (All times Eastern)
Anaheim Ducks (0-2) at Los Angeles Kings (2-0), 10 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The red-hot Los Angeles Kings will aim for a seventh straight victory and a 3-0 lead in the Western Conference semifinals when they host the Anaheim Ducks in Thursday's Game 3 battle at Staples Center.
The Kings, of course, were down 3-0 in the opening round against San Jose before becoming only the fourth team in NHL history to win a best-of-seven series after losing the first three meetings.
L.A. hasn't slowed down a bit since completing that first-round comeback with a Game 7 win in San Jose, claiming the first two games of this series on the road. The Kings posted a 3-2 overtime win in Anaheim on Saturday before grabbing a 2-0 series lead with Monday's 3-1 triumph at the Honda Center.
The Kings have gone on a few long playoff winning streaks in recent years. The club won eight straight at one point in 2012 en route to winning the franchise's first Stanley Cup title and had a six-game winning streak last spring before falling in the conference finals to Chicago.
"We just take it one game at a time, shift at a time, period at a time. All those things like that," said head coach Darryl Sutter of his team's current winning streak.
Anaheim, meanwhile, hopes it can halt L.A.'s hot streak on Thursday and avoid falling behind 3-0. A seventh straight win by the Kings would give them a chance to close the series with a sweep Saturday at the Staples Center.
The top-seeded Ducks finished 16 points ahead of Los Angeles in the Pacific Division standings and went 4-0-1 against the Kings during the regular-season series, but so far that success hasn't translated to the playoffs.
"We know we can beat this team," said Ducks defenseman Ben Lovejoy. "We feel we've had pretty even games, and they've come out on top. I truly believe the playoffs are all about momentum. Right now, we need to put a seed of doubt in their mind. If we win (Game 3), it's a 2-1 series and we have momentum. We can do that."
The Kings jumped on Anaheim early in Game 2, with Marian Gaborik scoring just 34 seconds into the contest. Anaheim tied it near the midway point of the first, but Alec Martinez scored the game-winner for L.A. at 12:07 of the first. The score remained 2-1 until Dwight King added an empty-netter in the closing minute of the third period.
"We'll enjoy this one night, but we have a lot of work to be done still," said Martinez.
Jonathan Quick turned away 36 shots to anchor the win for the Kings. The 2012 Conn Smythe winner had stopped 69-of-72 shots sent his way in this series for a save percentage of .958.
Gaborik also is having a strong series for L.A., recording three goals and an assist over the first two games to give him nine points (6 goals, 3 assists) in nine games this postseason. The Slovakian sniper was the hero of Game 1, tying it late in regulation before scoring the winner 12:07 into overtime.
Anze Kopitar has been on fire for the Kings as well, notching at least one point in all nine of the club's postseason games this spring. The star centerman had an assist on Monday and leads all skaters in the playoffs with 14 points (4g, 10a). Kopitar has reached the scoresheet in all nine games this postseason.
Patrick Maroon scored the only goal of Game 2 for the Ducks, who had won all three of their home games in a 4-2 series win over Dallas in the opening round. Jonas Hiller gave up two goals on 16 shots in the loss.
"This series isn't over. We can go to Staples Center, get a few bounces and bring this series back tied," said Anaheim head coach Bruce Boudreau.
The Ducks were 3-0 on the road against the Kings during the regular season, but one of those wins came outdoors at Dodger Stadium on Jan. 25. Thursday's battle will mark the first postseason game between the clubs at the Staples Center, as this series marks the first playoff encounter between L.A. and Anaheim.
The Kings played Monday without defensemen Willie Mitchell and Robyn Regehr in the lineup and both players could be out again with undisclosed injuries. Mitchell last played in Game 6 against San Jose, while Regehr has been out since leaving in the first period of Game 1 against Anaheim.
Matt Greene has filled in for Mitchell in the lineup, while Jeff Schultz replaced Regehr on Monday.
05/08 10:51:16 ET