***** National Hockey League Previews from The Sports Network *****
Saturday, March 15th
(All times Eastern)
CAROLINA HURRICANES (29-28-9) AT BOSTON BRUINS (44-17-5), 1 P.M.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Boston Bruins will try to record eight straight wins
for the first time in over two years when the Eastern Conference leaders
welcome the Carolina Hurricanes for Saturday's clash at TD Garden.
The Bruins picked up a 2-1 home win over Phoenix on Thursday, giving Boston
its first seven-game winning streak since Dec. 10-28, 2011. The last time
Boston won eight in a row was earlier that season when it posted 10
consecutive victories from Nov. 1-23.
Boston gave head coach Claude Julien his 300th win with the Bruins with the
close win over the Coyotes. Zdeno Chara and Jarome Iginla notched first-period
goals for the B's and Tuukka Rask made the lead stand up with a 21-save
Julien, meanwhile, saw his record in six-plus seasons with Boston improve to
300-161-61. Only the legendary Art Ross has more wins (361) for the franchise.
"It's not so much the streak, but it's the consistency which has marked each
game which is impressive," Julien said. "I'm proud to have accomplished this
(milestone) in Boston. I'm really looking forward to another 300."
Boston kicked off a three-game homestand on Thursday and pushed its impressive
record in Beantown this season to 26-7-2. The club will cap the residency
Monday evening against Minnesota.
The Bruins are 13 points ahead of second-place Toronto for first place in the
Atlantic Division and they also enter Saturday one point in front of
Pittsburgh for the conference lead.
Carolina hopes to slow down the Bruins on Saturday afternoon when they take
aim at a third consecutive victory. The 'Canes, however, are 0-1-1 against
Boston this season and have lost four of the past five encounters in this
The Hurricanes, who are six points out of a playoff spot in the East, are
coming off wins over the New York Rangers and Buffalo Sabres. Both of those
wins came on home ice, where Kirk Muller's club is 17-13-5 this season.
Carolina hopes to stay hot on the road on Saturday. The 'Canes are 12-15-4 as
the guest in 2013-14 and are playing four of their next five away from
Boston has won two in a row and seven of the last 10 meetings with Carolina at
Jiri Tlusty scored the winning goal with 6:17 to play to lift the Hurricanes
to a 4-2 win over the visiting Sabres on Thursday.
Alexander Semin posted a goal and an assist while Jeff Skinner also lit the
lamp for the Hurricanes. Cam Ward stopped 21 shots in the win.
"It's not easy for goalies when you don't get a lot of shots," said Carolina
head coach Kirk Muller. "Cam has a history of doing really well when he gets a
lot of shots in a game. He made the saves when we needed them."
With the Hurricanes set to play today in Boston before hosting Edmonton on
Sunday, Anton Khudobin could get the start on Saturday.
Khudobin spent time with the Bruins from 2011-2013 before signing a one-year
deal with Carolina last summer. The 27-year-old appeared in 15 games for
Boston, recording a 10-4-1 record along the way. Khudobin has never faced his
If Khudobin starts on Saturday, Ward will likely get the call in Sunday's tilt
with the Oilers.
Boston forward Daniel Paille could return from a two-game absence on Saturday.
He has been suffering from a mild concussion sustained Sunday against the
'Canes defenseman Justin Faulk has missed the last five games with an upper-
body issue and is questionable for Saturday. Fellow blueliner John-Michael
Liles expects to sit out a fourth straight game for Carolina with a
PITTSBURGH PENGUINS (44-17-4) AT PHILADELPHIA FLYERS (33-25-7), 1 P.M.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Battle of Pennsylvania is set to resume Saturday
afternoon in Philadelphia, as the Pittsburgh Penguins visit the Flyers at
Wells Fargo Center for the opener of a home-and-home series.
The Flyers and Penguins haven't met since mid-November but will face each
other on consecutive days this weekend. Pittsburgh opened the 2013-14 season
series with a 4-1 triumph in Philadelphia on Oct. 17 before the Flyers halted
a three-game slide in this matchup with a 2-1 regulation decision on Nov. 13
in the Steel City.
Following today's encounter and Sunday's meeting in Pittsburgh, the clubs will
face each other once more in the regular season when the Pens host the Flyers
on April 12.
The Penguins have won three straight and four of their last five games in
Philly and enter Saturday's showdown riding a three-game win streak overall.
Pittsburgh, which holds a 16-point lead atop the Metropolitan Division, last
played on Tuesday when it completed a home-and-home sweep of the Washington
Capitals. The Pens recorded a 3-2 regulation win in D.C. on Monday before
taking the home portion by a 2-0 score.
Jussi Jokinen and Sidney Crosby scored for Pittsburgh in Tuesday's win, while
Marc-Andre Fleury made 32 saves for his fifth shutout of the season and 28th
of his career.
Crosby extended his NHL lead with his 88th point, well ahead of both Phil
Kessel of Toronto and Anaheim's Ryan Getzlaf, who are tied for second in the
NHL with 73 points.
Fleury had six saves in both the first and second periods, then made 20 in the
third to keep the Capitals off the board.
"The second half of the game they really came at us," said Crosby. "To keep
them off the board was important ... especially when they're hanging around
when it's 1-0. A lot can happen."
The Pens did lose forward James Neal to a concussion on Tuesday and the winger
is sidelined indefinitely. Neal is fourth on Pittsburgh this season with 49
points on 22 goals and 27 assists.
"You don't know if you're talking about 1-2 days or much longer," Pens head
coach Dan Bylsma said on Friday. "You hope the symptoms subside and it's
shorter than longer."
Chris Kunitz, meanwhile, returned to practice for the Pens on Friday after
sitting out Thursday's session due to what Bylsma deemed "bumps and bruises."
Kunitz, who is tied with Crosby for the team lead in goals with 31, is
questionable for Saturday.
Pittsburgh, of course, has managed to perform at a high level while dealing
with a rash of injuries for much of the season.
The Pens have won two straight and three of their last four on the road. They
are 20-13-2 away from Pittsburgh this season.
The Flyers, meanwhile, have lost two straight after beginning the month of
March on a three-game winning streak. Philadelphia lost in overtime at Toronto
on Saturday and then dropped Tuesday's controversial 2-1 decision against
visiting New Jersey.
Philadelphia thought it had tied the game at 2-2 in the final minute of
regulation when Scott Hartnell charged the net in pursuit of a rebound.
Hartnell skated to the New Jersey crease and was hit from behind by Devils
defenseman Anton Volchenkov. The force of the contact pushed New Jersey
goaltender Martin Brodeur back towards the goal and the puck over the goal
After being immediately waved off, a brief review upheld the official's
decision. Following the game, the league revealed the play could not be
subject to review and could not be reversed since contact plays in the crease
are subject to on-ice calls.
"The only way they can reverse it was if the kicking motion but I don't think
there was a kicking motion," offered Flyers captain Claude Giroux. "I think
Volchenkov and Hartsy kind of collided. I think Volchenkov and Hartsy pushed
Marty in the net, it's not just Hartsy. You can see Hartsy tries to stop. I
don't know. It's a tough call."
Nicklas Grossmann provided the only goal for Philadelphia and Steve Mason
stopped 24 shots in the loss.
The Flyers are on their first two-game losing streak since a four-game slide
from Jan. 20-25. A loss today also would give Philly back-to-back home losses
for the first time since dropping games against Carolina and Boston on Jan. 22
and 25, respectively.
Mason expects to get the start for the Flyers on Saturday. He is 2-2-1 with a
3.17 goals against average and .908 save percentage in five career games
Fleury is 24-14-1 with a 2.74 GAA and .903 save percentage in 44 regular-
season games against the Flyers. Pens backup Jeff Zatkoff has never faced
OTTAWA SENATORS (28-25-12) AT MONTREAL CANADIENS (35-25-7), 7 P.M.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Ottawa Senators are running out of time to prove
themselves worthy of a playoff spot, but the club hopes to pick up a win on
Saturday when they visit the sliding Montreal Canadiens.
Ottawa has made the playoffs in each of the past two seasons, but Paul
MacLean's club enters Saturday five points out of a postseason berth in the
Eastern Conference. The Senators have lost three of four and five of their
last seven games but does enter Saturday's tilt on a modest two-game point
Montreal, meanwhile, is holding on to the seventh of eight playoff spots in
the East, but the Habs have lost three straight in regulation and have been
outscored by a 13-3 margin during the slide.
The Sens have won two of three meetings against the Canadiens this season, but
Montreal claimed a 5-4 overtime victory in the most recent encounter on Jan.
16 in Ottawa. The last two meetings were decided in OT and four of the past
five encounters have gone beyond regulation.
Ottawa has won three of five overall in the series and the Sens halted a four-
game road losing streak against the Canadiens with a 4-3 OT win at the Bell
Centre on Jan. 4. Montreal rallied from down 3-1 to force overtime in that
meeting before Clarke MacArthur scored a power-play goal to win it for Ottawa
less than a minute into the extra session.
After notching a 5-3 win at Winnipeg last Saturday, the Senators came back
from an early 3-0 deficit to gain a point in Monday's home OT loss to
The Predators, who eventually won the game on a Seth Jones goal in overtime,
carried a 3-0 lead into the third period before Jared Cowen, Marc Methot and
Jason Spezza scored for Ottawa to even the contest.
The recently acquired Ales Hemsky keyed the rally, collecting assists on all
three Ottawa goals.
"It shows a lot about the character in the room," Hemsky said about his team's
Senators No. 1 goalie Craig Anderson allowed three goals on 29 shots before
being shaken up in a third-period collision. Lehner stopped 12 shots in relief
for Ottawa, which has dropped five of its last seven games.
With Anderson out with an upper-body injury, Lehner will get the start on
Saturday. The 22-year-old Swede is 1-0-1 with a 1.85 goals against average in
three career games against Montreal. Nathan Lawson was recalled from Ottawa's
AHL affiliate in Binghamton, N.Y. to serve as the backup.
Montreal has been playing without its No. 1 goaltender since returning from
the Olympic break, but Carey Price could be nearing a return to the crease.
Price anchored Team Canada to a gold medal at the Sochi Olympics, but also
returned from Russia with an injury that has kept him sidelined for the first
eight games after the break.
Price has practiced with the team this week and there is a chance he could see
his first NHL action since Feb. 8 on Saturday. The 26-year-old is 26-17-5 with
a 2.33 GAA and .925 save percentage in 48 games this season.
Peter Budaj has logged most of the starts in Price's absence, but the
Slovakian veteran has a 2-4-1 record since the break. Budaj stopped 28-of-32
shots in Montreal's most recent game, a 4-1 home loss against Boston on
David Desharnais supplied the lone score for the Canadiens, who have lost two
of their last three home games and are 18-11-5 as the host this season.
Ottawa is 15-13-6 on the road in 2013-14. The Sens will begin a three-game
homestand when they host Colorado on Sunday.
NEW JERSEY DEVILS (29-25-13) AT TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING (35-24-7), 7 P.M.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Tampa Bay Lightning saw Steven Stamkos and Ryan
Callahan score long-awaited goals in Thursday's skid-stopping victory.
The duo will try to keep the Bolts headed in the right direction on Saturday
night in a home meeting with the New Jersey Devils.
Both Stamkos and Callahan potted tallies in Thursday's 5-4 triumph over the
Florida Panthers, one that halted the Lightning's 0-3-2 skid. The much-needed
win has Tampa Bay tied with the Montreal Canadiens for third place in the
Atlantic Division, three points behind the second-place Toronto Maple Leafs.
Stamkos, who also had an assist, got his first points in four games since
coming back from a broken leg suffered on Nov. 11. That injury sidelined Tampa
Bay's new captain for 45 straight games.
Callahan, meanwhile, got his first goal in four games since being acquired in
a trade with the New York Rangers in the deal that shipped Martin St. Louis to
the Big Apple.
Tyler Johnson, Sami Salo and Michael Kostka all added goals on Thursday, with
Johnson stretching his point streak to five straight games (4 goals, 1
Valtteri Filppula finished with three assists and Ben Bishop made 23 saves,
though he did allow a pair of goals in the game's final 1:05 to make it a
"For 59 minutes I think we stuck to the game plan," said Stamkos. "We could
have easily put our tail between our legs after they scored those two quick
goals, but that's one thing we talked about, no matter what happens in the
game, let's stay on it. We did and I thought we deserved the win today."
Tampa Bay is 1-1-2 on a six-game homestand that ends on Monday versus
Bishop is likely to start tonight and has solid career numbers versus the
Devils in four starts, posting a 1.45 goals against average and .950 save
percentage with a 2-2-0 record.
The Devils will be looking to bounce back tonight after having a two-game win
streak halted with Friday's 5-3 setback to the Florida Panthers. New Jersey
carried a one-goal edge into the final period, but saw the Panthers score the
final three goals of the contest.
Cory Schneider yielded four goals on 21 shots, giving up the game-tying goal
at the 4:24 mark of the third period. He was then beaten by Florida's Scottie
Upshall from a sharp angle at the midway point of the frame for the game-
"I'm really not happy with that (Upshall) goal," Schneider said. "It deflates
the team. I never like goals to go under me or through me."
Schneider has yielded 15 goals in losing his past three starts.
Jaromir Jagr had a goal to give him three tallies and six points in his past
five games, while Bryce Salvador and Patrik Elias added goals for a Devils
club that remained two points out of a wild card position in the East.
New Jersey concludes a three-game road trip tonight before kicking off a
string of five in a row at home on Tuesday.
Schneider's recent struggles and playing on back-to-back nights lends itself
to Martin Brodeur starting versus the Lightning. He is 39-16-3 with a 2.08 GAA
and six shutouts lifetime in this matchup.
Brodeur has started the Devils' two previous games versus the Bolts this
season, giving up one goal on 50 shots in a pair of wins.
Both of those contests took place in New Jersey and tonight is the third and
final meeting between the clubs this season. The Devils have won eight of
their last 10 trips to Tampa.
BUFFALO SABRES (19-39-8) AT NEW YORK ISLANDERS (25-34-9), 7 P.M.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Buffalo Sabres hope to avoid a fifth straight
setback on Saturday night as they visit the New York Islanders at Nassau
The Sabres have been outscored 12-5 over their current four-game slide and
netminder Michal Neuvirth faced plenty of pucks in Thursday's 4-2 setback to
the Carolina Hurricanes.
Neuvirth, in his second start since being acquired from the Washington
Capitals, faced 54 shots in attempting to keep his club in the game. His 51
saves marked the first time a Sabres netminder posted at least 50 stops in a
game since Dominik Hasek had 55 on March 1, 1996.
Neuvirth and Jhonas Enroth are both battling to become the No. 1 goaltender in
Buffalo. The Sabres also are set to host the Montreal Canadiens on Sunday, so
both should see action over the next two days.
"If there's one positive thing about (Thursday's game), Michal, I thought he
was good again. The one thing our goalies are going to end up doing in the
remaining ... games we have, they're going to get a lot of good looks and
fight for that position," Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan said.
Neuvirth is 5-1-0 with a 1.71 goals against average in his career versus the
Islanders, while Enroth has lost both of his previous games against them while
posting a 2.53 GAA.
Despite all the shots allowed, the Sabres were in the game versus the
Hurricanes until late. Tyler Ennis scored on a first-period penalty shot, the
first successful conversion for a Sabres skater since April 10, 2010, and Drew
Stafford scored a goal in his third straight game.
Stafford's tally gave the Sabres a 2-1 lead with 11:17 to play.
"It's a tough one because I thought we started showing some life in the second
period and third but we couldn't capitalize on our chances," said Stafford
following his club's fifth road loss in six games.
Buffalo defenseman Alexander Sulzer returned from a two-game absence caused by
a lower-body injury, but exited early with an upper-body ailment following a
hit along the boards. Nolan said the blueliner is likely to miss about a week
The Sabres have won five of their last six meetings with the Islanders,
including the first of three scheduled encounters this season. That was a 4-3
shootout win on Oct. 15 in New York, Buffalo's third straight victory on Long
The Islanders began a four-game homestand on Friday night with their seventh
loss in 10 games overall, falling 4-3 to the San Jose Sharks.
Evgeni Nabokov faced his old team for the first time, but came up short
despite a 22-save effort.
"They are not an easy team to play against," Nabokov said. "They are big, they
are experienced, but I thought we were right there with them."
Anders Lee, Brock Nelson and Frans Nielsen had goals for the Islanders. Kyle
Okposo had two assists and Lee also notched a helper to give the 23-year-old
six goals and nine points in eight games this season.
Lee has 11 points in 10 career NHL games and skated on the top line Friday
with Okposo and Nielsen because Michael Grabner is out with a concussion.
"Lee is big and strong and wins a lot of wall battles," Nielsen said. "He's
really fun to play with because every time you lose the puck he's right there
and gets it right back. He just competes so hard."
New York could start Anders Nilsson tonight to wrap up a set of games on back-
to-back days. He has never before faced the Sabres.
ST. LOUIS BLUES (45-14-7) AT NASHVILLE PREDATORS (29-28-10), 8 P.M.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Nashville Predators shouldn't be surprised about the
St. Louis Blues' run to the top of the NHL standings.
The Blues seek to extend a seven-game point streak and sweep their season
series with the Predators on Saturday night.
St. Louis came out of the Olympic break in late February with a pair of 1-0
setbacks, but has gone 6-0-1 in seven games since. The Blues had a five-game
winning streak halted with an overtime defeat to Dallas on Tuesday, but
rebounded two nights later to top the Edmonton Oilers 6-2.
That victory improved the Blues' season point total to an NHL-high 97, good
enough for a six-point edge for first place in the Central Division.
St. Louis found itself tied with the Oilers after two periods, but got four
goals in the third period to pull away. Jaden Schwartz scored twice in the
frame, while Alex Pietrangelo and T.J. Oshie added goals.
"We want to take it game by game," said Schwartz on his team's mind-set
regarding the standings. "Make sure we are just getting better. We are all
aware of the standings. We don't want to look too much into it and just take
it game by game."
Oshie and Vladimir Sobotka both finished with a goal and two assists, with
Sobotka's three-point game coming in his return to the lineup after sitting
out 12 straight with an injured knee.
Ryan Miller made 22 saves to improve to 5-0-1 with a 1.82 goals against
average and .924 save percentage in six starts with the Blues since being
acquired from the Buffalo Sabres.
Miller is 4-2-1 with a 2.34 GAA in his career versus the Predators, who have
not fared well versus the Blues in recent history.
St. Louis has outscored Nashville 16-7 in taking the first four of five
meetings this season. That has pushed the Blues' winning streak in this series
to five straight and they also have won nine of the past 10 meetings overall.
The Blues have allowed just two goals in their last three trips to Nashville,
where they have won five straight.
Though running out of time, the Predators are looking to make a run at a
playoff spot and sit seven points back of the second wild card spot in the
Western Conference. Nashville has won three in a row, finishing off a perfect
three-game swing with last night's 3-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks.
Ryan Ellis, Mike Fisher and Patric Hornqvist all scored, with the latter two
netting first-period markers. Roman Josi assisted on all three goals, helping
to set up Ellis' deciding tally in the third frame.
The defenseman blocked a shot and sent a pass up the ice to Ellis, who had
just come out of the penalty box and was able to race in and score 45 seconds
into the period.
"(Josi's) got great vision," Ellis said. "He made a great pass and it all
worked out for us."
Pekka Rinne was solid in net by making 31 stops as Nashville matched its
longest winning streak of the season. The Predators hadn't won three in a row
since Dec. 10-14 and are looking to claim four straight victories for the
first time since Jan. 31-Feb. 7 of last year.
Rinne has made five starts since a lengthy absence caused by a hip ailment and
is 13-10-4 with a 2.02 GAA in his career versus the Blues. However, the
Predators could opt to go with rookie backup Carter Hutton, who is 0-2-1 with
a 3.25 GAA in four games (3 starts) against the Blues.
COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS (34-26-6) AT MINNESOTA WILD (35-22-9), 8 P.M.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Columbus Blue Jackets were happy to gain a point in
their last trip to the ice, but the playoff-hopeful club will aim to get back
in the win column when they visit the Minnesota Wild on Saturday.
Columbus lost for just the second time in seven games this month when it
dropped a 4-3 shootout decision Thursday against San Jose. The visiting Sharks
won their fourth consecutive game after Joe Pavelski netted the lone shootout
The Blue Jackets held a 2-1 lead after 40 minutes but the Sharks grabbed a 3-2
edge after Matt Nieto and Patrick Marleau scored in the first six minutes of
the third period. San Jose held that lead until James Wisniewski recorded the
equalizer with 4:58 left in regulation.
Ryan Johansen and R.J. Umberger scored earlier in the game for Columbus and
Brandon Dubinsky added two assists.
Sergei Bobrovsky was beaten three times on 27 shots in a post-regulation loss
that is valuable with the team in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff
"We got a point tonight; (we) would have loved to have gotten two, but you've
got to look how the team played tonight," said Columbus coach Todd Richards.
"We played a hard game against a very good team, a hard team."
With 74 points, Columbus is third in the Metropolitan Division and two points
back of the second-place New York Rangers. The Philadelphia Flyers are looming
just one point behind in the Metro standings as the top three teams in each
division earn an automatic bid to the playoffs.
Columbus is trying to make the playoffs for only the second time in franchise
history. The Blue Jackets qualified for the postseason in 2009 and were
promptly swept out of the first round by Detroit.
The Wild currently hold the first of two wild card spots in the Western
Conference and the club enters Saturday on a three-game point streak.
Minnesota lost two straight in the shootout before halting a three-game
overall slide with Thursday's 2-1 home win over the New York Rangers.
Zach Parise's goal 1:03 into the third period provided the difference.
Nino Niederreiter also scored to support a strong 29-save effort from Darcy
Kuemper. Sixteen of those stops came in the final period.
"Huge points tonight," said Kuemper. "Just the way we played, I think we got
back to our identity."
The win improved the Wild's home record this season to 23-7-4. Minnesota is
capping a four-game homestand on Saturday and then heads out on a three-game
Columbus recorded a 4-0 home win over the Wild on Dec. 6, with Umberger and
Nick Foligno each contributing a goal and assist to the victory. The Blue
Jackets have won two straight and four of the last six overall meetings in
this series and also have claimed four of six in St. Paul.
The Blue Jackets will get Artem Anisimov back Saturday after he skipped
Thursday's game to be with his wife for the birth of the couple's first child.
Anisimov has six goals over his last seven games and he is second on the team
with 19 tallies this season.
CALGARY FLAMES (27-33-7) AT PHOENIX COYOTES (31-25-11), 10 P.M.
(SportsNetwork.com) - Following a split of a four-game road trip out east, the
Phoenix Coyotes return home on Saturday night to take on the Calgary Flames
and attempt to keep pace in the playoff race.
The Coyotes were looking to close out their trip with three victories in four
games as they headed into Thursday night's meeting with Boston off wins at
Tampa Bay and Florida, but managed just a single goal in a 2-1 setback to the
Phoenix outshot Boston 22-20, but just two of those shots came in the second
period and the Bruins carried a 2-0 edge into the third period. Lauri
Korpikoski got the Coyotes on the board at the 8:14 mark when he tipped home a
shot from the point by Oliver Ekman-Larsson, but Phoenix couldn't convert any
of its 11 other chances into goals.
"It would have been huge to beat a good team like Boston, and we had the
chance. We just didn't play well enough," said Korpikoski.
Skating in his 1,300th career game, Shane Doan had an assist, while goaltender
Mike Smith finished with 18 saves.
The Coyotes enter play two points back of the Dallas Stars for the second wild
card spot in the Western Conference and are expected to be without forward
Martin Erat. He missed Thursday's game with an upper-body injury, while Martin
Hanzal remains sidelined with a lower-body ailment. His status is unknown.
The Flames actually prevented the Stars from extending their lead by another
point over the Coyotes but picking up a 4-3 shootout victory in Dallas.
Calgary trailed by two goals going into the third frame, but rallied to tie
things before Corban Knight potted the deciding marker in the fourth round of
Mike Cammalleri scored twice, including the tying goal in the third period,
and Paul Byron also scored for the Flames, who have won two straight and four
of their last six.
"It was a great third period and a great comeback," said Calgary head coach
Bob Hartley. "We had some good parts in the first and second, but we made some
mistakes on our goals and they made us pay for it. They're a dangerous team,
but we never quit and that's why this group is so special."
Joey MacDonald finished the game with 22 stops as he made his first start in
the NHL since Nov. 1.
Rookie Joni Ortio is likely to start tonight for his seventh NHL start and
first versus Coyotes.
The Flames and Coyotes have split four previous meetings this season, with
each team winning twice at home.
Phoenix logged a 6-0 victory in the most recent encounter in the desert on
Jan. 7 and has won eight of the last nine contests on home ice in this series.
Smith is 5-4-1 with a 2.55 goals against average in 10 previous games versus
ANAHEIM DUCKS (44-16-7) AT LOS ANGELES KINGS (38-23-6), 10:30 P.M.
(SportsNetwork.com) - Though Los Angeles fell one victory shy of matching the
longest winning streak in club history, the Kings still have a firm hold on a
playoff spot in the Western Conference.
The Kings will try to get back into the win column on Saturday night when they
host the Anaheim Ducks for the first time since a late January meeting
outdoors in the NHL's "Stadium Series."
After winning their final game before the Olympic break, the Kings got red-hot
coming out of the hiatus. They won rattled off seven straight victories and
were aiming for a ninth win in a row on Thursday night before falling to the
visiting Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2.
Los Angeles led by two goals thanks to Marian Gaborik's first tally with the
Kings since coming over in a trade and Anze Kopitar's goal with 3:55 to go in
the opening period. Gaborik assisted on the tally as he recorded his first
points with the Kings.
However, Toronto found the back of the net before the end of the first period,
tied the game in the second and then scored shorthanded 5:06 into the third
frame. The tally came right after Kopitar had a pair of shots turned aside in
the other end.
Jonathan Quick yielded three goals on 29 shots as Los Angeles dropped the
opener of a five-game homestand.
"We just came out kind of flat tonight," said Los Angeles head coach Darryl
Sutter. "They were taking it to us and we didn't do a good job of responding."
The Kings lost for the first time since Feb. 3 and also for the first time
when leading by two goals since March 30 of last year.
Kopitar, meanwhile, picked up his fifth goal and 13th point in his past 10
games, though Quick saw his six-game win streak come to an end.
Quick is 13-7-2 with a 2.39 goals against average in 24 career starts versus
the Ducks, but both he and forward Dustin Brown are questionable for tonight
due to illness.
If Quick is unable to play, backup Martin Jones would make his second career
start versus the Ducks. He beat them back on Dec. 3 in his NHL debut, making
26 saves in a shootout victory.
Quick made 18 saves in a 3-0 loss to Anaheim on Jan. 25 at Dodger Stadium. He
was bested by Ducks goaltender Jonas Hiller, who logged a 36-save shutout and
got supported with goals by Corey Perry, Matt Beleskey and Andrew Cogliano.
Anaheim has won two of three versus Los Angeles this season, but has lost its
past five trips to the Staples Center.
While the Kings are sitting third in the Pacific Division with 82 points, nine
more than the fourth-place Phoenix Coyotes, the Ducks are even with the San
Jose Sharks for the top spot in the division with 95 points each.
Both Anaheim and San Jose picked up victories on Friday night and the Ducks
have one game in hand. The Sharks are idle until Sunday.
Looking to snap an 0-2-2 slide, the Ducks managed a 6-4 victory on Friday
night over the Colorado Avalanche. Anaheim set a club record by scoring six
times in one period, with all six of its goals coming in an overall nine-goal
The Ducks' six tallies in the second period came during a 16 minute, three
second span, which was the fastest six-goal span in club history.
Kyle Palmieri scored twice in the frame, with Perry, Daniel Winnik, Ben
Lovejoy and Mathieu Perreault also lighting the lamp. Cam Fowler, Nick Bonino
and Ryan Getzlaf all had two assists.
"I thought we started out well tonight," said Getzlaf. "We dug in and shut
them down in the neutral zone and we created chances."
Hiller turned aside 34 shots for the victory, one that did see Fowler exit
following the second period with a lower-body injury.
Frederik Andersen could get the start for the Ducks and it would be the
rookie's 19th of the season. He is 15-4-0 with a 2.28 GAA in 21 total games
this season, beating the Kings the only time he faced them back on Jan. 23.
Andersen stopped 30-of-31 shots in the 2-1 win.
03/15 10:50:17 ET