Pittsburgh (24-19-3; 18-28 ATS; 23-21-2 O/U) vs. L.A. Kings (24-15-5; 20-24 ATS; 19-23-2 O/U)
Line: LA Kings -125/Pittsburgh +105
The struggling Los Angeles Kings will host the Pittsburgh Penguins in an inter-conference clash Thursday night from the Staples Center. The Penguins defeated the Rangers by a 5-2 score on Sunday and face the Ducks on Wednesday night, while the Kings are coming off a 4-1 home loss to the Sharks in their latest action. The Kings won both meetings against the Penguins last season.
Penguins Find Scoring Touch
The Pittsburgh Penguins have been playing better hockey as of late, riding a four-game winning streak heading into Wednesday’s game in Anaheim. Phil Kessel continued his strong play with a goal and an assist in the Penguins 5-2 win against the Rangers on Sunday. The 30-year old right-winger is on a roll, recording 10 points in his last six games, and is now up to 52 points in 46 games on the season. Penguins’ captain Sidney Crosby is also red-hot, notching three goals along with nine assists in six games this month. The 12-year veteran center owns a minus ten rating and has 47 points in 46 games on the season. Crosby has tallied 12 points in 11 career games against the Kings. The Penguins are starting to get hot and now find themselves back in a playoff spot. They are currently averaging 2.9 goals per game, ranking them 15th in the NHL.
Pittsburgh is expected to turn to Matt Murray between the pipes in this matchup. The young goaltender is not having a strong season, posting a poor 2.93 GAA and a .903 save percentage to go with a 15-12-1 record. The Penguins are allowing an average of three goals per game, placing them 21st overall.
Kings Fall to Sharks in Fourth Straight Loss
The Los Angeles Kings will be hungry for a win after falling 4-1 to the Sharks on Monday to extend their losing streak to four games. Trevor Lewis scored the lone Kings goal in the loss to San Jose. The 31-year old center has collected three points in his last three games, and now has 20 points in 44 games played on the season. Kings’ leading scorer Anze Kopitar was held pointless in Monday’s loss, however he has notched five points in five games played this month. The 30-year old center is having another productive season, posting 45 points along with a plus 14 rating in 44 games. Kopitar has nine points in 13 career games against the Penguins. The Kings own an 11-8-3 record on home ice, and are scoring an average of 2.9 goals per game, ranking them 16th in the NHL.
Los Angeles is expected to send Jonathan Quick to the crease in this contest. Quick is having another terrific season, sporting a 2.33 GAA and a .924 save percentage to go with a 19-14-2 record. The Kings have not been sharp defensively during their slide, and are holding opponents to an average of 2.4 goals per game, good for first in the entire NHL.
The Pittsburgh Penguins are:
- 4-0 in their last 4 games playing on zero days of rest.
- 5-1 in their last 6 games against a team with a winning record.
- 4-0 in their last 4 games overall.
The Los Angeles Kings are:
- 0-4 in their last 4 games overall.
- 0-4 in their last 4 home games.
- 0-4 in their last 4 games against a team with a winning record.
I am siding with the Penguins in this contest. The Kings are struggling right now, allowing four goals in each game during their current four game losing streak. The Penguins are on a roll, winning four straight games heading into Wednesday’s game in Anaheim, and they have scored at least four goals in five of their last six games. Pittsburgh’s big guns have found their scoring touch, and I am confident they can notch another win.