The Los Angeles Kings are off to a modest start on their eight-game road trip, but for the team with the worst record in the league, it’s a step in the right direction.
The Kings look to pick up another point on the road Saturday when they visit the slumping Devils in their first trip to New Jersey in four years.
After falling to Atlantic Division-leading Philadelphia 3-2 in overtime on Tuesday in its first game after the All-Star break, Los Angeles (21-29-3) defeated the New York Islanders 3-1 on Thursday.
“Three points for us is a lot,” said Kings defenseman Rob Blake, who scored Thursday’s game-winning goal on a power play in the third period. “We understood the challenge at hand here coming on this type of a trip after the break. We had a good effort in Philly, and tonight we got the job done.”
The Kings have a NHL-low 45 points, and are 13 points out of the Western Conference’s final playoff spot. They’ve been playing much better lately, though, going 6-2-1 since Jan. 10. They are also 5-1-1 on the road since starting the season 4-12-1 away from Los Angeles.
“You can’t really look at the big picture,” said goaltender Jason LaBarbera, who made 28 saves Thursday. “It’s probably good for us to get out here and see something different and get away from the stuff we’ve seen a lot of this year.
“We’ve played well the first two games on this trip and hopefully we can just keep doing what we’re doing.”
LaBarbera improved to 4-1-1 with a 2.59 goals-against average in his last six road games after starting the season 3-8-1 with a 3.15 GAA in his first 13 games away from Staples Center. He has started each of the Kings’ last 11 games, and is 6-2-1 with a 2.49 GAA in the last nine.
LaBarbera has never faced the Devils in his career, while backup Jean-Sebastien Aubin is 3-9-1 with a 3.11 GAA lifetime against New Jersey.
Los Angeles defeated the Devils 3-2 in a shootout at Staples Center on Nov. 27, 2006, the teams’ only meeting last season. The Kings have not visited New Jersey since a 3-2 overtime loss on Feb. 15, 2004.
The Devils (28-20-3) fell 3-1 to the New York Islanders on Friday, dropping their third straight for the first time since a season-high four-game skid Oct. 18-27.
New Jersey has lost five of its last seven games, with all of those defeats coming on home ice. The Devils have scored just eight goals in those losses.
“I thought we did a lot of good things here. Obviously, we didn’t score enough goals,” New Jersey coach Brent Sutter said after Friday’s loss.
The Devils, who led the Atlantic on Jan. 12, have fallen into third in the division, two points back of first-place Philadelphia.
Martin Brodeur, who had 23 saves against the Rangers, is just 2-5-0 with a 2.75 GAA since Jan. 16. However, Brodeur is 7-4-1 with a 1.89 GAA and one shutout lifetime against the Kings.