There’s no place like home.
Later tonight, with the Kings riding a franchise-best and league-leading seven game road winning streak, they’re about to put that longstanding phrase to the test.
The Kings are returning to Downton LA on Thursday night to face off with the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins, following a thrilling victory in Las Vegas on Wednesday over the Golden Knights. For as dominant as LA has been on the road thus far, they have struggled to win games on home ice. With a record of just 1-2-2, they’ll be looking to show better in front of their own fans.
For his part, coach Todd McLellan has his team firing on all cylinders right now. LA’s October and early November schedule has been filled with playoff-caliber teams most nights and his players have been ready to go night in and night out.
It’s typically a fun time when Pittsburgh comes into town. Although former LA forward Jeff Carter looks to be sitting this one out (more on that in a bit), tonight will be the first time the Kings will see defenseman Erik Karlsson in a Penguins sweater. Plus, Sidney Crosby returns to Crypto Arena for the first time since receiving a game misconduct in last year’s matchup after a battle with Mikey Anderson. It was an overall miserable night for Pittsburgh’s captain, as he also snapped a nine-game points streak.
Seeing Crosby thrown out of a game wasn’t the only unique storyline in last year’s matchup.
Dustin Brown’s jersey was retired pre-game, followed by his statue unveiling outside the building. Once the action got going between the Kings and Pens, Adrian Kempe became the first player to score four goals in a game since… well, Brown did it in April 2018.
There was also plenty of commentary surrounding the goaltending that night. Pheonix Copley faced the Penguins for the first time in his career and stopped all 25 shots en route to a 6-0 victory, his first shutout with the Kings. One day prior, the veteran netminder had signed a $1.5-million, one-year extension. Copley celebrated his new deal with his 16th victory of the year and tied his career high.
Which brings us to tonight.
With back-to-back games, McLellan opted to not put his team through a morning skate earlier today. Thus, any lineup decisions won’t likely be known until just before game time. However, a change in goal would appear likely.
Despite Cam Talbot’s strong play of late, McLellan can’t go back to his 36-year-old netminder again, can he?
Sure, most NHL coaches don’t like to change their lineup during a winning streak. Yet, Talbot needs a rest and Copley needs another start — he hasn’t played in nearly two weeks. History would also suggest that last year’s shutout should push the decision over the top if it truly was a coin-flip scenario. If so, it’s more about the future than it is about the past. Copley needs a solid performance for both his own confidence and that of his teammates. His .788 saver percentage and 4.98 goals against average have been concerning, even if those stats have only been over three games. McLellan and the Kings need to be able to have Copley fill the crease for at least 25 games this season. It was a topic discussed in greater detail on this week’s Kings Of The Podcast.
Jaret Anderson-Dolan also scored in that game last year against the Penguins. He hasn’t suited up for the Kings since Oct. 14, nearly a month ago at this point. Assuming he has to get a game sooner or later, tonight could be the night where JAD finally draws in for his second game of the season. Ditto for Tobias Bjornfot on defense.
The Kings have claimed victory in four straight visits by the Penguins to Southern California. During that streak, dating back to January 2019, LA has outscored Pittsburgh, 19-5. Of their last 11 games hosting the Penguins, dating back to November 2009, the Kings have recorded points in nine of those games (7-2-2) and have outscored the Penguins, 36-22.
Overall, the Kings are 50-19-8 at home against Pittsburgh for a points percentage (PTS%) of .698, second highest among Western Conference opponents.
Kings Projected Lineup vs. Penguins
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 Blake Lizotte 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 Penguins lined up for their last game, a 2-0 victory in Anaheim on Tuesday:
Guentzel – Crosby – Rust
Smith – Malkin – Rakell
O’Connor – Eller – Zohorna
Nieto – Acciari – Hinostroza
Graves – Letang
Pettersson – Karlsson
Shea – Ruhwedel
Which would indicate Jeff Carter is out again.
Penguins practice is underway at https://t.co/IaSyTuCOVb Arena.
Tristan Jarry, who was injured late in the second period of last night’s win over Anaheim, is the only player absent. pic.twitter.com/mba4ivzbfc
— Pens Inside Scoop (@PensInsideScoop) November 8, 2023
Scoop from our friend @PensInsideScoop: When Hellberg was asked about his nickname, at first he said 'Helly', then he mentioned that guys have started calling him 'Chopper'.
Sidney Crosby found out Hellberg's teammates in Ottawa called him Chopper. Nothing gets past the captain.
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) November 8, 2023
On This Day in Kings History
On November 9, 1990, the @LAKings acquired center John McIntyre from the Toronto Maple Leafs for Mike Krushelnyski. In three seasons with the #LAKings, McIntyre recorded 15 goals, 44 points, and 295 penalty minutes in 178 games.#GoKingsGo pic.twitter.com/F6ueLYttpa
— The Kingstorian (@Kingstorian) November 9, 2023
Lineup graphic via ALo Images
Note to webmasters/reporters: When recapping news or interviews from this site please remember to include a link to www.MayorsManor.com