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Crypto.com Arena, Los Angeles, California Attendance: 14,348
Confident Kings set to host Evgeni Malkin, Penguins
Pittsburgh Penguins at Los Angeles Kings
- The Penguins and Kings have not met since the 2019-20 season, when they played twice and each team won at home (a 5-4 shootout win for Pittsburgh, and a 2-1 victory for L.A.). The Kings have won their last two home games versus the Penguins. Their last longer home winning streak against Pittsburgh was a run of three straight wins from 1999 to 2002.
- The Penguins are 16-3-1 since November 20. This is the Penguins' best 20-game stretch since they posted an identical record from Jan. 5 through Feb. 23, 2018.
- Evgeni Malkin recorded two goals and one assist when he made his 2021-22 season debut on Tuesday in Anaheim. It was the first time in Malkin's 16-year NHL career that he scored more than one goal in his first game of a season, and his second three-point game in a season debut (1-2-3 in his first game in 2018-19).
- Jeff Carter played 10 seasons for the Kings (2011-12 to 2020-21) and scored 194 goals for them, third most on the team over that span (Anze Kopitar 233, Dustin Brown 203).
- The Kings are averaging 35.2 shots on goal per game this season, third most in the NHL, behind the Panthers (36.6) and Bruins (35.8). Pittsburgh ranks fifth with 35.0.
- Cal Petersen started and won the last two games for the Kings, allowing only one goal on the 44 shots he faced. It's the first time in Petersen's NHL career that he allowed no more than one goal over a two-start span (63 career starts).
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Pittsburgh Penguins star Evgeni Malkin was superb in his return to competition after six-and-a-half months away. The Los Angeles Kings will find out how well the 35-year-old can bounce back.
The Kings are scheduled to host Pittsburgh on Thursday night in and they'll need to find an answer for Malkin, who had two goals and an assist in a 4-1 win at the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday, his first game since undergoing knee surgery in June.
"It was a long process for me. This was the longest break in my life," Malkin said. "I feel so at ease right now."
Malkin is a seven-time All Star and three-time Stanley Cup champion with the Penguins. His value to the team goes beyond goals and assists, Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said.
"He makes us so much harder to play against," Sullivan said. "He's such a threat offensively, he commands the puck every time he's on the ice."
The Kings are feeling confident after knocking off the visiting New York Rangers 3-1 on Monday for their fourth win in the past five games.
"When we're playing well and we're playing fast, we connect the dots," Kings coach Todd McLellan said. "When we're not, it's ragged and we chase pucks all over the place."
One of the most dependable players for Los Angeles of late has been fourth-year forward Trevor Moore.
The undrafted 26-year-old from nearby Thousand Oaks, Calif., has two goals and five assists in four games this month. He set career highs last season with 10 goals and 13 assists while playing all 56 games.
"We have some responsibility for his lack of production, the coaching staff, because we played him everywhere," McLellan said. "He was a center, he was a left wing, he was a right wing, he was on the top line, he was on the fourth line."
Moore has found a landing spot on a line with veteran Phillip Danault, who has collected three goals and two assists in the past four games.
"Finding a home on a line has been good for (Moore)," McLellan said. "Jumping around all over the place is never good for anybody, but he was the one guy we trusted to do that."
In the past month, the Kings have gone toe-to-toe with the Eastern Conference, posting a 5-1-1 mark against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Florida Panthers, Carolina Hurricanes, Washington Capitals, Philadelphia Flyers, Detroit Red Wings and the New York Rangers.
"We have a chance, and the guys are believing that now," McLellan said. "It doesn't guarantee us a win, but it gives us a better chance."
The Kings might be up against their toughest test over the past month, however. The Penguins not only have Malkin back, but they've won 11 of their past 12.
"Wins are just as important now as they are at the end of the year," Pittsburgh goalie Tristan Jarry said. "The team's done a great job, we've brought a lot of energy, we've brought a solid game, and I think that's what's helped us have success."
--Field Level Media
Updated January 12, 2022