After a successful pair of wins in San Jose, the Colorado Avalanche headed south in their tour of California to face a much more formidable opponent in the LA Kings. Both teams stand on the precipice of the playoffs with a division title in their sights and something to play for in the last handful of games in the regular season. The Kings lost two straight to teams they are chasing in the Edmonton Oilers and Vegas Golden Knights so a win to begin the final week of play is crucial for them. The Avalanche need to also win to stay ahead of the Dallas Stars who are right on their heels.
The two teas have played spirited contests in their previous meeting but the Kings ultimately came out on top twice, scoring five goals in each of their wins. This is low key a good playoff test for the Avalanche in a tough building to win on the road against a team who plays a heavy playoff style. Perhaps the two teams will meet again in the future.
As always the key storyline for the defending champions are the injuries and which players will be available for the game. This lineup is expected the same barring any surprises as Cale Makar and Darren Helm continue to nurse injuries and none of the other wounded are expected back.
On a much more positive note, milestone watch continues with Mikko Rantanen now only needing two points to reach 100 and Nathan MacKinnon needs three goals to hit 40 for the second time in his career.
Evan Rodrigues — Nathan MacKinnon — Mikko Rantanen
Denis Malgin — J.T. Compher — Val Nichushkin
Andrew Cogliano — Lars Eller — Logan O’Connor
Ben Meyers — Alex Newhook — Matt Nieto
Samuel Girard — Devon Toews
Jack Johnson — Bowen Byram
Kurtis MacDermid — Erik Johnson
Following their aforementioned loss the Kings might be more willing to shake things up heading into this game but they too are expected to play with the same healthy players. Anze Kopitar is quietly having a strong season at 35-years of age and the best since 2017-18 when he was nominated for the Hart Trophy with MacKinnon.
Quinton Byfield - Anze Kopitar - Adrian Kempe
Trevor Moore - Phillip Danault - Viktor Arvidsson
Alex Iafallo - Blake Lizotte - Arthur Kaliyev
Carl Grundstrom - Rasmus Kupari - Zack MacEwen
Vladislav Gavrikov - Drew Doughty
Sean Durzi - Matt Roy
Tobias Bjornfot - Sean Walker
Going into the start of a back-to-back it’s a pretty safe bet that Alexandar Georgiev will get the start in this contest and leave the Anaheim Ducks tilt tomorrow night for one of the backup goaltenders. Pavel Francouz might even be ready to make an appearance by then but for now Georgie keeps the net.
For their part the Kings have been pretty consistently alternating goaltenders Joonas Korpisalo and Phoenix Copley. With Korpisalo taking the loss in their last outing the tea leaves seem to point to Copley’s turn in net.