CANADIENS (34-21-7) at KINGS (34-22-6)
7:30PM PT, TV: FOX SPORTS WEST; RADIO: AM 1150
BIENVENUE À LOS ANGELES:
This is the second and final meeting with Montreal this season. The Kings delivered a slaying in Quebec on December 10 when they visited Montreal’s Bell Centre, winning 6-0, snapping their seven-game losing streak against the Canadiens. Tonight marks Montreal’s first visit to STAPLES Center since December 3, 2011.
These clubs come into tonight with almost identical records through 62 games. Montreal (75 PTS) is still feeling heat from a handful of teams in the Eastern Conference, the Kings (74 PTS) are gaining ground on Vancouver and Phoenix for the Pacific Division’s final guaranteed playoff spot. Nothing’s safe, or determined with 20 games left on the season’s slate. Count on a dogfight.
The Kings haven’t been able to solve the Canadiens in Los Angeles for a while. Montreal has won each of its past four visits to Los Angeles dating back to March 6, 2004, and is 5-2-0 all-time at STAPLES Center. Can the Kings string a winning-streak together against the Montreal Canadiens for the first time since March 6, 2001?
These two clubs were tied with the NHL’s top defensive ranking (2.00 GAA) when they met on December 10. The Kings exposed Montreal’s defense that night, scoring six goals, while holding strong in their own zone, keeping the Canadiens scoreless while Martin Jones made 31 saves. Coming into tonight’s matchup, the Kings remain atop the NHL in defense (2.08 GAA), the Canadiens have dropped to eighth (2.40 GAA).
Montreal is riding a six-game point streak (5-0-1), and they’re 2-0-1 in their return from the Olympic break. The Kings are rebounding with a four-game win streak, going 3-0-0 back from the Olympic break, outscoring opponents 11-5 in those three games, in an effort to continue to separate from the Vancouver Canucks and Phoenix Coyotes in the Pacific Division standings.
With 20 games left on the schedule, now’s the time to get locked in. Jon Rosen caught up with Anze Kopitar Saturday afternoon in El Segundo:
“I think we are a team that is built better for playoffs than we are the regular season,” Kopitar said.
Now is when you translate words into performance.
"It seems like even the last couple years, we've had some struggles during the regular season, but when it's time to make it all happen, we were right there and we were up to the challenge. I think it's getting to about that point of the year where you've got to ramp it up. The guys are well-rested now, and we're going to be ready to go."
Alec Martinez scored his first-career NHL goal at Montreal’s Bell Centre on November 24, 2010 in his fifth-career NHL game, and recently buried the Kings’ third goal in their 6-0 drubbing of the Canadiens on December 10 in the same building.
Martinez blasted home the game-winning goal past Carolina’s Anton Khudobin Saturday afternoon, it was his fifth goal of the season, which leaves Martinez one goal shy of his single-season career-high of six goals, which he set during the 2011-2012 season.
Can Martinez queue red against Montreal tonight?
NOUS LE FAISONS EN DIRECT: Catch KINGS LIVE on FOX SPORTS WEST at 7:00, followed with Bob and Jim on the live play-by-play call on scene at STAPLES Center for puck-drop at 7:30 PT.