Following Friday night’s thrilling victory over the Coyotes in Arizona, the Kings return home to meet with the reigning Stanley Cup Champion Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday.
Before looking ahead to what’s at stake tonight, let’s put a quick bow on what went down in the desert less than 24 hours ago. Down 4-1 in the first period, the Kings went on to stage only their third three-goal comeback in the last decade. The other two came on March 6, 2021 (4-3 OT W vs. STL) and Dec 18, 2014 (6-4 W vs. STL). Making it even more rare, this was the first time they had turned that trick on the road since April 6, 2010 (5-4 SO at ANA).
By scoring their 32nd goal of the season, LA now ranks third in the league – behind only Detroit (35) and Carolina (33). Last night’s 5-4 victory over the Coyotes also marked the fifth time this season they’ve reached five goals in a game. Only once previously in franchise history has a Kings team tallied at least five goals in five of the first seven games to start a season. When else did they do it? Back in 1988-89, Wayne Gretzky’s first year with the club.
History aside, continual comebacks aren’t likely a recipe for success that coach Todd McLellan is preaching to his club.
Although LA has been able to get off to a respectable 4-2-1 start, there has to be a shift in the team’s mindset if they want to compete for a Pacific Division title. It all starts with — well, the start. Showing up and being ready at puck drop is critical. Sure, they have the firepower to comeback from multi-goal deficits. Yet, that can be taxing when done repeatedly. Quite simply, falling behind early has happened too many times already this year, where LA has found themselves down multiple goals in the first period of games after coming out of the gate flat. Against a team like Vegas — a group that has not lost in regulation thus far this season — it takes a full 60-minute effort.
On paper, McLellan’s biggest decision heading into tonight comes between the pipes. Earlier this week, the plan was to play Cam Talbot in net against Vegas. However, the veteran goaltender was thrust into action last night, relieving Pheonix Copley in the first period. Will McLellan go back to Talbot again after he played the majority of last night’s contest? Unfortunately, Copley has yet to find his groove between the pipes this season, pointing to Talbot most likely getting back-to-back action.
Overall, just like Drew Doughty said to the media following the game in Arizona, this is unlike any Kings team he can remember. This isn’t the classic LA hockey club that will wear you down defensively and win games 2-1 or 3-2. Early on, this team has proven they can score goals like not many Kings teams have in franchise history. They are averaging over 4.5 goals per game so far this season and there are no signs of slowing down. Kevin Fiala and Adrian Kempe haven’t even really gotten going yet. When those two start clicking, that could put the rest of the league on notice.
Doughty’s longtime running buddy, Trevor Lewis, will be celebrating NHL game No. 900 tonight. He’s had a truly remarkable career thus far and he isn’t showing any signs of slowing down soon.
Sticking with the milestone theme, Anze Kopitar is set to play in his 1,300th career game. In doing so, he’ll join three other players as the only active skaters to reach that mark — Ryan Suter (1,368), Alex Ovechkin (1,354) and Brent Burns (1,342).
Kopitar is also no stranger to finding the scoresheet against Vegas. Since they joined the NHL for the 2017-18 season, nobody has recorded more points against the Golden Knights than LA’s captain. He has 32 points (12G, 20A) in 29 career games vs. the Golden Knights.
If you missed it, we did post an update on Viktor Arvidsson’s situation on Friday evening:
Kings Projected Lineup vs. Golden Knights
Byfield – Kopitar – Kempe
Fiala – Dubois – Laferriere
Moore – Danault – Kaliyev
Grundstrom – Lizotte – Lewis
Anderson – Doughty
Gavrikov – Roy
Englund – Spence
Likely scratches: Anderson-Dolan, Björnfot
Injured Reserve: Arvidsson (LTIR)
Key Game Info
Puck drop is set for 7:30 pm PST and will be televised by Bally Sports West.
For those live in attendance, the LA Kings Booster Club will offer their popular ‘Puck for a Buck’ contest — featuring Adrian Kempe for this game. Just $1 could win you an autographed puck from an NHL star. Visit their table outside sections 317-318 on the upper concourse for more information.
Across the Ice
Here’s how the Golden Knights lined up for their last game:
VGK lineup per line rushes in warmups vs CHI
— SinBin.vegas (@SinBinVegas) October 27, 2023
The Golden Knights have traveled from home to road in a back-to-back situation 11 times in franchise history.
Their record in the 2nd game… 10-0-1.
Read more about VGK in back-to-backs here…https://t.co/iap56LAGPn
— SinBin.vegas (@SinBinVegas) October 28, 2023
On This Day in Kings History
— The Kingstorian (@Kingstorian) October 28, 2023
Lineup graphic via ALo Images
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