LOS ANGELES (AP) — Los Angeles’ strong home play and Tampa Bay’s success on the road have made them two of the biggest surprises through the first month of the NHL season.
Looking to continue their recent success in Los Angeles, the Lightning will try to hand the Kings their first home loss Thursday night.
Despite a 3-2 overtime loss at Anaheim on Wednesday, Tampa Bay (7-2-2) is 4-1-1 away from home and tied with Washington for the most points in the Eastern Conference with 16.
Los Angeles (8-3-0) has 16 points to lead the West thanks to a 4-0-0 record at Staples Center. The Kings haven’t won their first five at home since a 7-0 start at the Great Western Forum in 1980-81.
“We know we have a good team,” forward Jarret Stoll said. “We’ve got a lot of positives and a lot of character, so we have a lot of good things going.”
Coming off a 3-1 home win over New Jersey on Saturday, the Kings try for a third consecutive victory and first at home against Tampa Bay since Nov. 6, 1997. The Lightning are 5-0-0 with two ties at Los Angeles since that contest.
Tampa Bay, however, faces a Los Angeles team with Norris Trophy finalist Drew Doughty and forward Scott Parse expected back in the lineup. Doughty missed six games since suffering a concussion against Carolina on Oct. 20, and Parse – likely to be on the top line with Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown – makes his season debut after injuring his groin in the preseason.
“Hopefully we find the right chemistry and keep things going in the right direction,” coach Terry Murray told the Kings’ official website.
Stoll had a goal with two assists and Justin Williams added one of each against the Devils. Stoll has four points in his last two games, but none in four versus Tampa Bay.
Williams has a goal in three straight contests during his five-game points streak.
Jonathan Quick stopped 39 shots against New Jersey for his fourth consecutive victory. He is 7-1-0 with a 1.84 goals-against average this season, and 1-0 with a 0.62 GAA in two games against the Lightning.
“Playing against this Tampa team, they have a lot of offense so we need to be solid back there,” Doughty said.
Steven Stamkos extended his points streak to seven games with a goal Wednesday. The star forward has six goals and eight assists during that span with five of those goals coming in three road games.
Stamkos leads the NHL with 20 points and has a league-best 77 goals since Feb. 17, 2009 – six more than Alex Ovechkin and nine more than Sidney Crosby. Stamkos also has recorded an assist in each of his two games versus Los Angeles.
He and Doughty were the top two picks in the 2008 draft.
Dan Ellis made 27 saves Wednesday but fell to 3-2-2 with a 2.46 GAA this season. He’s posted a 2.01 GAA while winning his last three starts versus Los Angeles.
Tampa Bay’s Mike Smith, 4-0-0 with a 3.59 GAA, has not played since allowing three goals on seven shots in a 5-3 win over Pittsburgh on Oct. 27. He is 5-0-0 with a 1.60 GAA against the Kings.