Kings at Ducks
The Los Angeles Kings aren't ready to sound the alarm after answering a blistering 9-1-1 start with losses in two of their last three games, but coach John Stevens and company sure know the importance of what lies ahead. The Kings look to hit the on-ramp with some speed on Tuesday as they visit the Anaheim Ducks in the latest installment of the "Freeway Faceoff."
"They're big games. Any time you play a division game, they're big games, but certainly, Anaheim - since my time here and before that - I think you play a team where there’s always a lot at stake in the division and you're playing a team that you’ve had a history with recently with in the playoffs," Stevens told reporters. Captain Anze Kopitar mustered just two points against Anaheim last season but enters Tuesday's tilt with a four-game assist streak and a five-game point streak (one goal, five assists). While the Kings managed to overcome an early three-goal deficit in a 4-3 overtime loss to Nashville on Saturday, the Ducks followed up a 5-3 setback to the Predators with their third straight loss - a 2-1 shootout decision at San Jose on Saturday. Corey Perry scored his team's lone goal on a breakaway in his 900th career game, and the former Hart Trophy recipient has 45 points (23 goals, 22 assists) in 65 encounters versus the Kings.
TV: 10 p.m. ET, NBCSN
ABOUT THE KINGS (10-2-2): While "That 70s Line" enjoyed its time in the sun for a stretch, two members of that contingent - Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson - have seen rookie Adrian Kempe heat up on the second line in the wake of Jeff Carter dealing with an ankle injury. For his part, Kempe is also attempting to win over Stevens in a bid to gain more ice time. "I just want to gain his trust and be a more consistent player. He's helped me a lot to improve my game in the defensive zone and I'm playing more minutes," said Kempe, who has recorded three goals, three assists and a plus-8 rating in his last seven games.
ABOUT THE DUCKS (6-6-2): John Gibson has yielded 14 goals en route to losing three of his last four starts, but the 24-year-old is hoping to continue his dominance versus the Kings as the Ducks open their five-game homestand. Gibson sports a brilliant 6-3-0 mark with two shutouts and a 1.80 goals-against average in nine career encounters against Los Angeles. Rickard Rakell ravaged the Kings for six points (two goals, four assists) last season and has notched an assist in back-to-back contests heading into Tuesday's contest.
1. Toffoli has six points (five goals, one assist) in his last five games.
2. Anaheim C Derek Grant, who has eight points (three goals, five assists) in his last eight contests, has one goal and three assists during his career-high four-game point streak.
3. Pearson has collected one goal and four assists during his three-game point streak.