NHL Game Preview - Penguins v Kings

 
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Los Angeles 1 1 0 2
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7:30 PM PT8:30 PM MT9:30 PM CT10:30 PM ET3:30 GMT11:30 8:30 PM MST10:30 PM EST7:30 UAE (+1)22:30 ET0:30 BRT, February 26, 2020
Staples Center, Los Angeles, California  Attendance: 16,898

New faces try to help Pens snap 3-game skid at Kings

Pittsburgh Penguins at Los Angeles Kings

  1. The Penguins have won four of the last five meetings with the Kings, with the lone loss coming in Los Angeles on January 12 last season. Pittsburgh took the first meeting, 5-4, in a shootout on home on December 14 behind three-point efforts from Bryan Rust and Jake Guentzel.
  2. Pittsburgh fell in Washington, 5-3, on Sunday for its third straight loss, getting outscored 14-5 over that span. The Penguins look to avoid losing four straight for the first time since February 2-9 last season -- the Kings have had five losing streaks of 4+ games in that span.
  3. Los Angeles dropped a 4-2 decision to Edmonton on Sunday for its third loss in four games and is 5-14-2 (.286) since January 1, better than only Detroit (.229) in that span. The Kings' 2.24 goals per game in that span also rank 30th in the league, once again ahead of only the Red Wings (1.67).
  4. Evgeni Malkin lit the lamp in Sunday's loss to close the weekend's back-to-back set with three goals. Tonight will be Malkin's 900th career game, making him the third Penguin to play 900+ games with Pittsburgh, along with Sidney Crosby (976 games and counting) and Mario Lemieux (915 games).
  5. New acquisition Patrick Marleau is expected to make his Penguins debut tonight. He'll face a familiar foe as his 115 games against the Kings are the most by any active player against a single opponent, while his 95 points vs. LA are tied for third most by an active player against one opponent behind new teammate Sidney Crosby (113 vs. Islanders, 105 vs. Flyers).
  6. Anze Kopitar lit the lamp in Sunday's loss and leads the Kings with 56 points (18g, 38a) this season. It's his seventh straight season with 50+ points, tied with Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby among others for the fourth-longest active streak and the longest run by a King since Luc Robitaille did so in his first eight straight seasons from 1986-87 to 1993-94.

The Pittsburgh Penguins added some scoring depth as they prepare for a 14th straight playoff run, and the new additions are expected to make their team debuts at the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday.

Patrick Marleau, Conor Sheary and Evan Rodrigues were acquired on Monday, and the forwards are arriving at a good time, as the Penguins will try to avoid losing four in a row for the first time this season.

Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford told reporters that the new additions should give coach Mike Sullivan a better opportunity to spread around the minutes.

"The top three lines were probably playing a little bit more than they should," Rutherford said. "[We're] trying to get their minutes down so that we can come and come hard, shift after shift, with four lines. That's what we should be able to do after we made those changes."

Pittsburgh lost 5-3 at the Washington Capitals on Sunday to fall two points behind the Capitals for the Metropolitan Division lead.

The Penguins have been outscored 14-5 in their three-game losing streak.

The Kings, stuck at the bottom of the Western Conference standings for most of the season, did most of their trading in the days leading up to the deadline, unloading veterans Kyle Clifford and Alec Martinez, both of whom were part of the 2012 and 2014 Stanley Cup Championship teams.

"It's not an easy few months here because you're dealing with some very important people in the history of the L.A. Kings," Los Angeles general manager Rob Blake told reporters on Monday. "They've been able to do a tremendous amount, but we're moving forward."

Los Angeles is playing better in the past two weeks, posting a 3-2-1 record in their past six games following a dreadful 2-12-1 stretch.

Blake said the remainder of the season will be a prime opportunity for the younger players to experience more playing time against NHL competition.

"It's important for those guys to show what they can do the next 20 games," Blake said.

The Kings should be plenty familiar to Marleau, who played for Pacific Division rival San Jose from 1997-2017 before rejoining the Sharks prior to this season.

Marleau has played 115 games against Los Angeles, the most against any NHL team, and has 43 goals and 52 assists, both also tops against any opponent.

One thing Marleau doesn't have is a Stanley Cup title.

"His desire to get that ultimate prize is going to be big for him," Rutherford said. "His time is running out. He should be a good fit for us."

Sheary, who played his first three NHL seasons for Pittsburgh before he was traded to the Buffalo Sabres following the 2017-18 season, gets another chance to succeed with the Penguins. He has experience playing alongside Pittsburgh star Sidney Crosby.

"He was pretty pumped when I talked to him," Rutherford said. "The coaches felt very strong when his name came up that it would be seamless for him coming back in here."

--Field Level Media

Updated February 25, 2020

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