Home Los Angeles News Kings take four-game winning streak to Colorado

Kings take four-game winning streak to Colorado

Kings take four-game winning streak to Colorado

In the short term, the Kings will seek to extend their winning streak to a season-high five games, and, in the long run, they’d love to unseat the defending Stanley Cup champions.

To accomplish either goal, they’ll have to get past the Colorado Avalanche, their opponent Thursday and last year’s title winner.

So what will coach Todd McLellan say to his club to emphasize the importance of the Kings’ lone road game amid a stretch of 10 matches at home?

“Probably not a lot, they’ll know,” he said. “They know who they’re playing against and how tough that building is to play in, so they’ll know.”

The Kings won in Colorado on Dec. 29, a 5-4 shootout victory that was their first one in Denver in four years and their first win over the Avalanche in 10 meetings. Presently, they ride a four-game wave, with a 4-2 win over the Washington Capitals on Monday in their rearview mirror. It was a contest where it felt like the Kings might have been able to pull away sooner, instead finding themselves tied in the third period and in a one-goal game late.

“Where we got ourselves in trouble was taking penalties at ill-advised times,” McLellan said. “The number of minutes we’ve lost on the power play over the last two weeks because of those penalties is far too many.”

Monday’s victory may have come at a cost, as defenseman Sean Durzi was evaluated for a head injury after receiving a thunderous hit from T.J. Oshie. Durzi did not return to the ice and on Wednesday the Kings recalled another right-shooting defenseman, Jordan Spence, from their American Hockey League affiliate. Spence has eight points in 27 games over the past two seasons with the Kings, and he has been one of the top scoring defensemen on a per-game basis over the past two seasons in the AHL.

The pace of play Thursday projects to be swift with two of the top-10 teams in terms of shots per game squaring off, something that didn’t seem to bother new Kings winger Zack MacEwen. Whether he or Arthur Kaliyev will play Thursday remains to be seen, but McLellan liked MacEwen’s debut Monday.

“I thought he had an impact on the game,” McLellan said. “Big, fast, in on the forecheck, managed the game well. Really good on the bench, that’s something that’s important too.”

Thursday’s matchup features two of the top-10 power plays as well. That’ll place even greater scrutiny on avoiding untimely and unnecessary penalties for the Kings.

“It’s a problem. And it’s been ongoing for a little while. There are some people who can fix it, they’re the ones who keep taking the penalties, and if we continue on, it will cost us in the long run,” McLellan said.

For Colorado, even as they’ve continued to battle a torrent of injuries –– captain Gabriel Landeskog and former Ducks defenseman Josh Manson remain sidelined –– the Avs have managed to climb above the wild-card race. Of their core players, only winger Mikko Rantanen has not missed significant time this season.

Colorado has grown healthier with the return of top defenseman Cale Makar (March 4) after leading scorer Nathan MacKinnon returned New Year’s Eve. The Avalanche pieced together six consecutive wins and an eight-game points streak to close February. Even in the loss that snapped that string, they rallied from a 5-1 deficit to twice get within a goal of New Jersey. Colorado’s most recent match saw it pummel the Sharks 6-0 in San Jose.

Kings at Colorado

When: 6 p.m. Thursday

Where: Ball Arena, Denver

TV/Radio: Bally Sports West/iHeart Radio