Kings look to maintain hold on Pacific against Bruins
Saturday, 03.24.2012 / 2:37 AMBRUINS (42-28-3) at KINGS (37-25-12)
TV: NESN (HD), FS-West (HD)
Boston 4-6-0; Los Angeles 8-2-0
Boston defeated Los Angeles 3-0 in December during a two-month stretch of dominance rarely seen in the NHL when the Bruins went 23-3-1. The Kings had won the previous five meetings between the two teams, though four of them went to overtime or a shootout.
It is a battle of division leaders -- Boston is trying to stay atop the Northeast despite recent struggles while Los Angeles is trying to fortify its recently-claimed place atop the Pacific.
Boston's offense went into a February funk, and the Bruins were shut out five times in a span of 14 games. The team's ability to prevent goals nosedived in March, and suddenly the swooning Bruins were closer to eighth place in the Eastern Conference than first. The low point was four straight losses, which included 21 goals allowed.
The Bruins rebounded with consecutive wins, but they lost Thursday in San Jose and now face back-to-back contests in Southern California.
"We proved recently what kind of game we can play," goalie Tim Thomas
told reporters after the loss to the Sharks. "If you asked me before this game, I would have thought we'd carry it over. I thought after our last game we had turned a corner. Hopefully we still have."
Los Angeles is rolling right now. Adding Jeff Carter before the trade deadline has ignited the offense, and the Kings proved Thursday they can still win with goaltending and defense in a 1-0 shootout victory against League-best St. Louis.
The Kings are now 10-3 since the trade for Carter (9-3 in the games he has played in), including six straight victories. It has vaulted them to the top of the Pacific Division, but they are just two points ahead of San Jose in 10th place in the West.
"You can win and not gain any ground. It's crazy," coach Darryl Sutter said. "It doesn't mean [anything]. The bottom line is we pretty much have to overcome something that's pretty much insurmountable. We'll try to take advantage of what we have at home. It doesn't get any easier."
Who's Hot: Brian Rolston
has 2 goals and 8 points in the past four games for the Bruins. The 39-year-old Rolston had 4 goals and 9 points in 45 games for the Islanders before being traded to Boston. … Carter has been skating on the Kings' second line, but the top line has benefited greatly from the move. Anze Kopitar has 7 goals and 15 points in the 13 games, captain Dustin Brown has 5 goals and 16 points and Justin Williams has 6 goals and 12 points.
Boston is without forwards Nathan Horton
(concussion) and Rich Peverley
(knee) and goaltender Tuukka Rask
(abdomen). … Forwards Simon Gagne (concussion) and Scott Parse (hip) are not available for the Kings.
The Bruins are one of two teams (Washington is the other) that have won every game they've played this season when leading at the second intermission. They are 28-0-0. … The Kings have scored 42 goals in the 13 games since the Carter deal. That's 3.23 per contest, which is just better than the League-leading 3.22 goals per game Pittsburgh is averaging for the season.
Boston captain Zdeno Chara
will play his 1,000th NHL game Saturday. Chara is the 11th member of the Bruins to reach the feat, and 277th in NHL history.
"I don't think anyone playing their first game thinks ahead to 500, 800 or 1,000 games. That's just so far away," Chara told reporters. "But when you get down to five more to go, 10 more to go, sure, you can't help but think it's a lot of games, a long time."