Preview: Pittsburgh at Los Angeles
When: 4:00 PM ET, Saturday, December 5, 2015
Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
The Pittsburgh Penguins have struggled to locate their offense for much of the season, but Evgeni Malkin has had no such issue over the team’s recent seven-game stretch (4-1-2). With eight goals and five assists during that run, Malkin looks to continue his good fortune on Saturday as the Penguins play the second contest of their four-game road trip against the Los Angeles Kings.
Malkin, who scored for the fourth straight contest in Pittsburgh’s 5-1 triumph over San Jose on Tuesday, has six goals and four assists in seven career meetings with Los Angeles. The 2012 Hart Trophy winner was held off the scoresheet in the last meeting, but Marc-Andre Fleury more than picked up the slack by securing two of his league-leading 10 shutouts against the Kings in 2014-15. Pacific Division-leading Los Angeles is coming off consecutive overtime victories heading into back-to-back contests this weekend. Anze Kopitar scored 2:02 into overtime in Tuesday’s 2-1 victory over Vancouver, marking his seventh point (three goals, four assists) in the last six games.
TV: 4 p.m. ET, ROOT (Pittsburgh), FSN West (Los Angeles)
ABOUT THE PENGUINS (14-8-2): Defenseman Olli Maatta participated in practice for the second consecutive day on Friday to inch toward a return to game action. “It’s looking positive now,” coach Mike Johnston told the team website of Maatta, who missed six games after he suffered an upper-body injury following a hit from Minnesota’s Nino Niederreiter on Nov. 17. Fellow blue-liner Kris Letang is considered questionable to play in Saturday’s contest after leaving practice early on Thursday and failing to skate the following day.
ABOUT THE KINGS (15-8-1): Tyler Toffoli is trying to remain optimistic after cooling down considerably from his hot start to the season. “It (stinks), but you’ve just got to keep working and keep working for your opportunities to score goals,” said the 23-year-old Toffoli, who has just two goals in his last 14 games. “I haven’t been obviously scoring like I was at the start of the year, but that’s just the way it goes. If I’m getting chances, eventually they’re going to start going in again.” Toffoli has scored eight of his 11 goals at the Staples Center.
1. Los Angeles C Trevor Lewis exited Friday’s practice with an upper-body injury, leaving his availability in question.
2. Pittsburgh has eight power-play goals in its last seven games.
3. Kings G Jonathan Quick is just 1-2-3 in his six career meetings with the Penguins.
PREDICTION: Kings 3, Penguins 2