PENGUINS (37-14-2) at KINGS (30-19-6)
7:30PM PT, TV: FOX SPORTS WEST; RADIO: AM 1150
PITT STOP: This is the Penguins’ first visit to Los Angeles in more than two calendar years; their last stop at STAPLES Center came on November 5, 2011. This is the first of two meetings with the Penguins this season; the Kings will travel to Pittsburgh on March 27 to skate with the Penguins at Consol Energy Center in Pennsylvania.
Pittsburgh comes to town atop the Eastern Conference, and fourth overall in the NHL. Can the Kings balance out of their stumble tonight against the East’s elite?
HISTORY ON FIG AND CHICK: Since the Kings began playing at STAPLES Center (’99-’00 season), the Pittsburgh Penguins have visited the intersection of Figueroa St. and Chick Hearn Blvd a mere six times. In Pittsburgh’s few and far between visits, the Kings have been quite successful, going 4-0-2 against the Penguins on home ice.
Can the Kings keep the Penguins’ franchise without a regulation win at STAPLES Center tonight?
WHEN NUMBERS TALK: The Kings have scored one goal in their last 236:47 minutes of play. The Penguins are fourth in the NHL averaging 3.15 goals per game; the Kings sit at 26th with a 2.21 mark.
The Kings are in a nightmarish power play outage, failing to score on their last 18 man-advantage opportunities, 3 for their last 38, and 5 for 59 in January.
With that, Pittsburgh owns the league’s best penalty kill unit, shunning 87.6% of their opposition’s power plays, and the league’s best power play unit, executing on 24.3% of their man-advantage opportunities.
Can the Kings leave those numbers behind tonight?
THE LAST TIME THEY WERE HERE: Pittsburgh last skated at STAPLES Center on November 5, 2011, claiming a 3-2 win in a shootout.
Anze Kopitar got the Kings on the board to tie the game 1-1 late in the second period; the Kings traded goals with the Penguins in the third period, only to see Chris Kunitz secure two points for the Penguins in the fourth-round of the night’s shootout.
Kopitar has the only two goals for the Kings in their last 236:47 minutes of play. Can he find the net again against Pittsburgh tonight at STAPLES Center?
OPPOSITES ATTRACT: Tonight presents a battle of opposites. The Kings come in to tonight as the NHL’s best defensive club, allowing just 2.04 goals per game. The Penguins come into tonight with the NHL’s fourth-best offensive club, scoring 3.15 goals per game. Pittsburgh has won five of their last seven, the Kings just two of their last eight.
NO KIDS ALLOWED: Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby, who leads the NHL in points with 74 (27G, 47A), has five points (1G, 4A) in his three-career games against the Kings. Can the Kings shut down the NHL’s scoring leader at STAPLES Center tonight?
ROB’S RETURN: Rob Scuderi will return to STAPLES Center tonight and see the Kings for the first time since he signed a four-year contract with the Penguins over the summer on July 5. Scuderi played four seasons in a Kings uniform, was a staple in the Kings’ defensive scheme through his tenure in Los Angeles, and was undoubtedly a major factor in the Kings’ Stanley Cup run in 2012.
BACK HOME: Tonight marks the Kings’ first game at STAPLES Center since January 13. Due to the Grammy Awards Ceremony, the Kings were forced to play eight straight games away from home (if you don’t include Dodger Stadium), and struggled mightily, going 2-5-1 in that span. The Kings kick off a four-game home stand in their return home tonight. Can they do it with a win?
WE’RE DOING IT LIVE: Catch KINGS LIVE on FOX SPORTS WEST at 7:00 PT, followed with Bob and Jim on scene at STAPLES Center for the live play-by-play call at 7:30.
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