NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Thursday, March 13th
(All times Eastern)
Toronto Maple Leafs (35-24-8) at Los Angeles Kings (38-22-6), 10:30 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The red-hot Los Angeles Kings will try to match the
longest winning streak in franchise history when they welcome the Toronto
Maple Leafs for Thursday's battle at Staples Center.
The Kings have won eight games in a row and seven of those victories have come
after the Olympic break. The time off in February apparently was productive
for Los Angeles, which had dropped nine of 11 games before the league went on
hiatus for the Sochi Olympics.
Another victory tonight would give L.A. its first nine-game winning streak
since setting a club record from Jan. 21-Feb. 6, 2010, but a former teammate
could prevent that from happening as Maple Leafs goaltender Jonathan Bernier
gets set to make his return to the Staples Center.
Bernier, who served primarily as Jonathan Quick's backup during his time with
the Kings, was dealt to Toronto last summer in exchange for forward Matt
Frattin, goaltender Ben Scrivens and a second-round draft pick. Frattin and
Scrivens have since been traded by L.A., while Bernier is having a terrific
debut season with the Leafs, going 25-16-7 with a 2.59 goals against average
and .926 save percentage in 49 games.
Originally a first-round pick of Los Angeles in the 2006 draft, Bernier had a
29-20-6 career record with six shutouts and a 2.36 GAA in 62 games with the
He expects to get the start tonight and has a chance to end the Kings' recent
Thanks to the recent surge, the Kings are sitting comfortably in third place
in the Pacific Division, nine points ahead of Phoenix for the last of the
division's three automatic bids to the playoffs. L.A. is still nine points
behind San Jose for second place and 11 points behind Anaheim for the top
The Kings are back home on Thursday after a perfect three-game road trip. Los
Angeles is beginning a five-game homestand tonight and is 19-10-3 at Staples
Center this season.
The club capped its recent swing with Monday's 3-2 regulation win at Calgary.
Anze Kopitar scored the eventual winner in the third period as Los Angeles
survived a late push from the Flames to pick up the win at the Saddledome.
Trevor Lewis and Justin Williams scored for the Kings, while Martin Jones made
24 saves in the win.
"Good way to finish off the trip. We did what we wanted," said Los Angeles
head coach Darryl Sutter. "If you score three on the road you should win the
Quick expects to get the start for L.A. on Thursday. The Kings' No. 1 backstop
is 2-1-0 with a 2.62 goals against average and .910 save percentage in three
career games against the Maple Leafs.
Kings forward Jordan Nolan is eligible to return tonight after sitting out the
last game due to a suspension. Nolan earned the one-game ban for a sucker
punch on Edmonton Oilers forward Jesse Joensuu on Sunday.
Toronto hopes to rebound after having a three-game winning streak halted in
its last outing. The Maple Leafs were pounded 6-2 by the San Jose Sharks on
Tuesday, losing one night after beginning a five-game road trip with a 3-1 win
Jake Gardiner registered both Toronto tallies in Tuesday's loss, while James
Reimer allowed all six goals on 48 shots for the Leafs.
"I thought we did a lot of things that gave them a lot of opportunities,
specifically turning the puck over," said Toronto head coach Randy Carlyle.
Toronto, which fell to 13-13-7 as the road club this season, is still in
second place in the Atlantic Division. The Leafs are one point ahead of
Montreal and three in front of fourth-place Tampa Bay.
L.A. has won two straight and three of the last four meetings against the
Maple Leafs overall, but Toronto has claimed the past two encounters at
03/13 11:40:00 ET