Los Angeles coach Terry Murray knew his team’s hot start this season wouldn’t last forever, but after his club survived a challenging four-week stretch, the Kings are back playing at a high level.
Los Angeles will try to match a franchise record with its eighth straight victory Thursday night at Staples Center where it will renew its Pacific Division rivalry with the Anaheim Ducks.
The Kings (34-19-3) opened the season 10-4-2, but that was tempered with seven losses in a 10-game stretch from Dec. 17-Jan. 11.
“We were a pretty good hockey club at the start of the year. We were in first place in the National Hockey League,” Murray said following Tuesday’s 2-1 victory over the New York Rangers. “You know you’re going to hit a little bit of a bump along the way, and we did. … but you learn from it.”
A 4-0 win over visiting Anaheim on Jan. 14 snapped the Kings’ three-game home losing streak and began their current 9-1-0 stretch. If Los Angeles can extend its winning streak over the Ducks to five, it also will match the franchise record for consecutive victories last done from Feb. 23-March 9, 1992.
Kopitar, who leads the Kings with 24 goals and 57 points, has found the back of the net five times and has six assists while scoring in each game of the winning streak. He posted a career-best eight-game point streak from Nov. 28-Dec. 12, 2007.
“Every time the puck is on his stick now, he has an attack mindset and he wants to be aggressive to the net,” Murray told the Kings’ official Web site.
While Kopitar has helped the Kings average 3.1 goals during their winning streak, Quick has been stellar, posting a 1.95 goals-against average over the last seven games.
Quick, a member of the U.S. Olympic team, is 4-0-0 with a 2.25 GAA in four career starts versus the Ducks, and needs a victory to break a tie with Kelly Hrudey and Robb Stauber for a franchise-record eighth consecutive win.
Setting that mark, though, could be a challenge the way Anaheim (27-23-7) is playing. In their first home game following a 3-3-0 trip, the Ducks won their ninth in a row at the Honda Center, 3-1 over Detroit on Wednesday.
“I wouldn’t have liked to have that many shots, but that’s the way it went,” Jonas Hiller(notes) said after making a season-high 46 saves. “But we found a way, and it was an important two points. We’ve been playing pretty well lately, and we always feel like we have a chance to win.”
Before Anaheim can try to match a franchise record with its 10th straight home win Monday against the Kings, the Ducks could face a physical battle in Los Angeles, where the teams combined for 69 penalty minutes in the third period on Jan. 14.
Bobby Ryan(notes), who scored his team-leading 25th goal Wednesday, picked up 17 minutes in penalties—including a charging major and game misconduct—with 7.1 seconds left after taking a run at Kings center Oscar Moller(notes).
Ryan also will represent the United States at the Olympics later this month.
Anaheim will try to win three straight on the road for the first time since a six-game run from March 19-April 4.