By NOEY KUPCHAN STATS Writer
Los Angeles (42-25-6) at Pittsburgh (46-21-5), 7:00 p.m. EDT
The surging Los Angeles Kings are hitting on all cylinders with the playoffs approaching.
The same can’t be said for the Pittsburgh Penguins, who have had a rough go over the last week-plus.
On the verge of matching the longest road winning streak in team history, the Kings try to add to the Penguins’ woes Thursday night.
Los Angeles (42-25-6) has allowed 1.9 goals per game in winning four straight and 12 of 15, and it’s won all seven on the road since the Olympic break. The Kings put together eight consecutive victories away from home in 1974-75.
They stayed hot with Tuesday’s 5-4 shootout win at Washington. Los Angeles allowed the game’s first two goals and trailed 3-1 at the end of the second period before going up 4-3 with seven minutes left in the third.
Captain Dustin Brown and Dwight King each had a goal and an assist, and Marian Gaborik and Mike Richards also scored for the Kings, who allowed the tying goal with 42 seconds left in regulation.
“After the second, we still felt we were right in it,” center Anze Kopitar told the team’s official website. “It certainly helped coming out of the intermission and scoring in the first minute. It gave us some lift. We were able to build a lead late in the period, but at the end of the day, the two points are all that matter.”
Los Angeles occupies the third and final playoff spot in the Pacific Division, eight points ahead of Phoenix with nine games remaining for each team.
The Kings now try to pick up a rare win against the Penguins, who are 6-1-0 in the series since 2006-07 after a 4-1 win at Los Angeles on Jan. 30.
The Kings are 0-2-1 in their last three visits to Pittsburgh since a 3-0 victory Oct. 10, 2003, but they may be able to break through if the Penguins’ recent play is any indication.
Metropolitan Division-leading Pittsburgh (46-21-5) has gone 2-4-1 in its last seven after falling 3-2 to Phoenix on Tuesday. The Penguins, playing in their first game since losing Evgeni Malkin to a foot injury, tied it with five seconds left in the first period but couldn’t get anything going the rest of the way.
“I don’t think there’s anyone feeling sorry for us, but that still doesn’t allow us not to have the right type of effort and work ethic,” captain Sidney Crosby said. “If our effort is there we’re going to give ourselves a chance to be in games and create things, and if it’s not, we’re going to make it pretty tough on ourselves.”
The Penguins took five penalties against the Coyotes, including three in the third period as they tried to tie the score.
“We’ve been talking about (composure) for one or two weeks now,” center Brandon Sutter told the team’s official website. “We’ve had it happen several times and it’s not any one guy. It’s a team thing and we have to do a better job of that. It’s the kind of penalties where you don’t take those in the playoffs, there’s no reason to take them now. We have to be smarter on that.”
Marc-Andre Fleury dropped to 0-3-1 with a 3.76 goals-against average in his last five starts, his longest winless stretch in more than two years. He is 4-1-0 with a 2.31 GAA in his past five meetings against the Kings.
Los Angeles’ Jonathan Quick is 1-2-2 with a 2.90 GAA versus Pittsburgh.