KINGS AT CANUCKS
Faceoff: 7 p.m. TV/Radio: Prime, 790-AM
The Kings (39-25-14) are tied with the Winnipeg Jets with 92 points, but hold the second wild-card spot because they hold the tiebreaker with more regulation and overtime victories 37-33. The Kings have four games remaining, including a three-game trip to play Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary. The Jets (40-26-12) also have four games left, including tonight’s contest in St. Paul, Minn., against the Wild. The Kings also are one point behind the Calgary Flames (43-29-7) in the battle for third place in the Pacific Division. The Kings trail the second-place Canucks (45-29-5) by three points. Jeff Carter had two assists in the Kings’ 3-1 victory Saturday over the Colorado Avalanche, giving him 32 this season, the second-most in his career behind the 38 he recorded while with the Philadelphia Flyers in 2008-09. Anze Kopitar has a team-leading 47 assists. “We know them and they know us,” Kopitar said of the Canucks, who are led by Daniel Sedin with 71 points (17 goals, 54 assists).
Here’s what Kings defenseman Alec Martinez said after a strange play in which he appeared to score only to have the puck bounce back to him before he sent it back into the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday: “I thought the first one went in, but I looked at the ref and he was shaking his head and so I just tried to put it in again just for good measure.”
Here’s what Kings coach Darryl Sutter said when someone asked if he felt compassion for Edmonton Oilers goalie Tyler Bunz, who gave up three goals on 12 shots in the third period in his NHL debut Thursday at Staples Center:
“Yeah, damn right. He hasn’t played much in the American (Hockey) League either and that’s not an easy situation to go into. He’s a pro. He’ll learn from it and he’ll be better for it. He’s a good western Canadian.”
Bunz hails from St. Albert, Alberta. Sutter is from Viking, Alberta.
Jarret Stoll’s return to the Kings’ lineup for Thursday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers at Staples Center was a very big deal. He didn’t like sitting out because of a concussion and missing nine consecutive games in the heat of the tightly-contested playoff race.
Stoll detested watching games on television and noticing when and where he could have helped his teammates had he been healthy enough to play. The last two games, lopsided losses to the Minnesota Wild and Chicago Blackhawks, were especially painful to watch from afar.
“Feel good,” he said. “Excited to be back in the lineup and help this team win any way I can. Obviously, it’s an important time and important games, big games. This is definitely the time you want to be playing as opposed to watching your team. So, yeah, I’m excited to be back in.
“I watched every game and the first three games (on a five-game trip), it was great to watch.”
Stoll referred to victories over the New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers and New York Islanders to start the five-game trip. He remained behind to skate in El Segundo and continue to recover from a head injury that produced lingering post-concussion syndrome affects.
Stoll even enlisted the help of a young goaltender who plays on a Midget-level team.
“I warmed him up a little bit,” Stoll said, breaking into a laugh when reporters joked that he might have damaged the kid’s confidence beyond repair with a flurry of shots. “No, it was good. I ramped it up every day and I’ve had a couple of good practices here and I’m ready to go.”
Tanner Pearson smiled broadly as reporters surrounded him after he stayed on the ice for an extended period with several teammates after the Kings’ regulars completed their Thursday morning skate in El Segundo. He had plenty of reasons to be happy despite lacking medical clearance to play.
Pearson signed a two-season contract extension worth $2.8 million.
“It’s exciting news,” he said. “I was happy to get a deal done. To stay here is awesome, too.”
Pearson sat out Thursday night for the 35th consecutive game after suffering a broken leg. There is no timetable for his return to the ice, except as a practice player, and it’s expected that he won’t be cleared to play in a game by the end of the regular season April 11.
“Honestly, I don’t know,” he said of his possible return. “It’s still up in the air. I’m just taking it day-by-day. I’m hoping to return as soon as possible. I still have a bit more healing to do. I don’t want to close it (returning by April 11). There’s always a chance of seeing another X-ray and you’re good to go.”
Pearson had 12 goals and 16 points in 42 games before he was hurt Jan. 10 against the Winnipeg Jets. He played a major role in the Kings’ early-season success, joining with center Jeff Carter and fellow winger Tyler Toffoli to form That 70s Line. Wednesday, he was happy they would be reunited for two more seasons.
“I want to be here as long as possible,” he said of signing his new deal. “I love L.A. I love the team, the fans and everything about it. It’s one of the best places to play in my opinion. So, to be here for at least another two years is special.”
The Los Angeles chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association has nominated defenseman Robyn Regehr of the Kings for the Masterton Trophy. Quoting from the PHWA press release Tuesday:
“Regehr is an old-school, stay-at-home defenseman who has been the glue of the Kings’ defense corps in many ways this season while Slava Voynov has served a league-imposed suspension and Alec Martinez missed time because of a concussion. The oldest player on the team at 35, Regehr has been poised under pressure and remains a physical force, averaging more than three hits per game and more than 20 minutes’ ice time per game. Whether paired with the adventurous Drew Doughty or another offense-minded defenseman, Regehr has persevered through his own injuries to lead by example.”
KINGS AT DEVILS
Faceoff: 4 p.m. TV/Radio: FSW, 790-AM
The Kings on Sunday recalled center Mike Richards from their American Hockey League team in Manchester, N.H., in an attempt to bolster their roster for the final 11 regular-season games. The Kings (34-23-14) practiced Sunday and Richards joined his teammates for the workout. He is expected to play against the Devils (31-30-11), two months after he cleared waivers and was assigned to the minors after recording five goals and 15 points in 47 games with the Kings. He had 14 points in 16 games for Manchester. The Kings desperately need depth at center, with Jarret Stoll sidelined by a concussion and Nick Shore failing to record a goal in 25 games and Andy Andreoff scoring only once in 17 contests. The Kings play their next five games on the road and finish with only three of their final 11 at Staples Center. The Devils are 10-4-2 in their last 16 games. They also are 10-4-1 in their last 15 home games. They lost 3-0 to the New York Islanders on Saturday, however.
The Kings on Sunday recalled center Mike Richards from their American Hockey League team in Manchester, N.H., in an attempt to bolster their roster for the final 11 regular-season games. The Kings (34-23-14) practiced the day before starting a five-game trip in Newark, N.J., and Richards joined his teammates for the workout.
He is expected to play Monday against the Devils (31-30-11), two months after he cleared waivers and was assigned to the minors after recording five goals and 15 points in 47 games with the Kings. He had 14 points in 16 games for Manchester. The Kings desperately need depth at center, with Jarret Stoll sidelined by a concussion and Nick Shore failing to record a goal in 25 games and Andy Andreoff scoring only once in 17 contests. Stoll had only six goals in 67 games before he was hurt March 12 He hasn’t scored a goal since Feb. 14 against the Capitals.
“You’ve got to produce,” Kings coach Darryl Sutter said of his centers after Saturday’s 4-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks, the team’s third defeat in four games. “At the end of the day, the guys (Shore and Andreoff) have played 20-some games and we’re into the stretch part and they have one or no goals. We’re having trouble scoring. The guys have to produce. That’s just being honest.”
The Kings have scored only six goals in their last four games.
Kings defenseman Drew Doughty had a second consecutive rough game during Saturday’s 4-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks. He took a key penalty in the third period that led to the go-ahead power-play goal for the Canucks’ Radim Vrbata. He also had a defensive rating of minus-3 in a team-leading 24:54. He also assisted on the Kings’ only goal, a power-play strike by Marian Gaborik in the second period.
Doughty also was a minus-2 in the Kings’ 3-2 overtime loss Wednesday to the Ducks, which was far from his best game of the season. He and Gaborik collided in a defensive breakdown that led to Ryan Kesler’s winning goal in OT. Doughty and Gaborik both went to cover defenseman Hampus Lindholm, leaving Kesler with plenty of open ice to set and fire a shot from low in the right faceoff circle past Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick.
Overall, Doughty’s plus-minus rating has dipped to plus-1.