Bruins Look to Extend Winning Streak, Add to Recent Road Struggles of Kings

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Bruins Look to Extend Winning Streak, Add to Recent Road Struggles of Kings Twice in the past two weeks, the Bruins have returned to the Garden for the second game of a back-to-back set and had to face a rested club waiting for them. They lost to both St. Louis and Montreal on those occasions, but now Boston has a chance to turn the tables.

While the Bruins got Friday off with coach Claude Julien even canceling practice, Los Angeles was in Buffalo for a showdown with the Sabres. The Kings fell 4-2 to Buffalo, dropping their third straight game.

They won’t be in arriving in Boston in good humor, but the Bruins know better than to underestimate them. Even with their recent skid, the Kings remain among the Western Conference leaders at 12-6-0 as they are finally reaping the rewards of several years of shrewd drafting during their lean seasons this decade.

“They have high-end players throughout their lineup,” said Julien after Friday’s off-ice workouts. “They’re high tempo. They have a ton of skill and it’s spread out throughout their lineup. They come at you shift after shift. That what happens when you struggle for a few years. You get those top-end players in the draft and you take advantage of that and eventually the cream comes to the top and they’re starting to show the quality of the players they’ve drafted now that they have a few years of experience.

“They’ve been through some tough times, but they’ve obviously drafted well and built well,” added Julien. “They’ve got a team right now that’s got a lot of confidence and definitely a lot of skill. So we’ll be tested [Saturday], there’s no doubt there.”

When and Where

Boston Bruins (11-5-1, 21 points) vs. Los Angeles Kings (12-6-0, 24 points)
Nov. 18, 7 p.m. (NESN)
TD Garden, Boston, Mass.

Head to Head

This is the first of two meetings this season between the Bruins and Kings. The Bruins also played L.A. twice last year, losing both games in shootouts — 4-3 in L.A. on Jan. 16 and 3-2 in Boston on Jan. 30. The Bruins still hold a 78-33-13-3 advantage in the all-time series, including a dominant 44-12-6-2 mark at home.

Goaltending Matchup

Tuukka Rask finally earned his first win of the season on Thursday and did it in spectacular fashion with a 41-save shutout against Florida. He’s now 1-4-1 on the year, but improved his GAA to 2.24 and his save percentage to .939. Rask has not started consecutive games this year, but should get the chance to now after his shutout on Thursday. Tim Thomas got the next start after each of his four shutouts this year. He’s now 10-1-0 with a 1.37 GAA and a .959 save percentage on the year.

For the Kings, Jonathan Quick is 10-2-0 with a 1.73 GAA and a .936 save percentage. He’s also 3-0-0 with a 2.16 GAA and a .916 save percentage against the Bruins. He’ll likely get the start on Saturday, as Jonathan Bernier fell to 2-4-0 after giving up four goals on 26 shots in Buffalo on Friday. Bernier’s lone game against Boston saw him surrender seven goals on 30 shots back in 2007.

Stat Sheet

Bruins

  • Despite their gaudy home record against the Kings, the Bruins have lost the last three matchups with Los Angeles at the Garden. The Bruins’ last home win against the Kings was all the way back on Jan. 10, 2002.
  • Tim Thomas has started three games against L.A. and has yet to see a game against the Kings end in regulation. He also doesn’t have a win against them, as he is 0-0-3 despite a 2.36 GAA and a .921 save percentage. He was in goal for both shootout losses last year.
  • At least one Bruin has some fond memories of a game against the Kings. Milan Lucic, who collected a natural hat trick on Thursday, scored his first career goal in L.A. on Oct. 12, 2007, scoring what proved the winner in a wild 8-6 victory. Lucic scored from David Krejci and Zdeno Chara at 15:19 of the third to complete a Gordie Howe Hat Trick, as he earlier assisted on an Aaron Ward goal and fought heavyweight Raitis Ivanans.

Kings

  • The Bruins would be wise to keep their heads up when Kings captain Dustin Brown is on the ice. He entered Friday’s game sixth in the NHL with 66 hits in 18 games. That’s nothing new for Brown, who has been in the top three in the league in hits each of the past four seasons, including a league-leading 311 in 2007-08. Last year he was second with 287 hits.
  • Brown and Anze Kopitar have also been Bruins killers throughout their careers. Brown, who has 4-3-7 totals in his last six games, had two goals plus a shootout winner against Boston last season and is 4-2-6 in six career games against Boston. Kopitar had two goals and an assist, plus goals in both shootouts, in the two games last year and has 4-1-5 totals with three power-play goals last season against Boston. He’s currently riding a six-game point streak with 3-7-10 totals in that span.
  • The Kings’ penalty kill is the only team in the NHL still perfect at home, successfully killing off all 35 of its opponents’ power plays on home ice. But away from Staples Center it’s been a much different story, as L.A. has allowed nine goals on 42 chances, including two on six power plays Friday in Buffalo.

Infirmary Report

Bruins

  • Center David Krejci (concussion) has been cleared for practice, but remains out.
  • Defenseman Johnny Boychuk (fractured left forearm) returned Thursday after missing 10 games.
  • Center Marc Savard (post-concussion syndrome) is out indefinitely, but was cleared to return to practice on Friday, though not for contact.
  • Left wing Marco Sturm (knee surgery) is expected to be out until at least early December.
  • Center Trent Whitfield (ruptures Achilles) could miss the entire year.

Kings

  • Forward Alexei Ponikarovsky (broken finger) is on injured reserve.
  • Defenseman Willie Mitchell (broken wrist) is on injured reserve.
  • Forward Scott Parse (hip surgery) is on injured reserve.

Familiar Faces

Quick hails from Milford, Conn. and played at UMass-Amherst, while defenseman Peter Harrold played at Boston College. Kings goaltending coach Bill Ranford played 122 games with the Bruins from 1985-87 and 1995-97. Former Bruins GM Mike O’Connell is now in the Kings’ front office, in charge of pro development and special assignments.

Fight Card

The Kings have 12 fighting majors in 18 games, but eight have come in the last five games. Kevin Westgarth is the heavyweight and leads the club with three fights, while Kyle Clifford, Matt Greene and Wayne Simmonds each have been in two. The Bruins continued to pile up the fighting majors with another one on Thursday when Shawn Thornton had a bloody slugfest with Darcy Hordichuk. That was Boston’s 19th fight in 17 games. Thornton, Greg Campbell, Mark Stuart and Adam McQuaid each have three, while Lucic has a pair of fighting majors. Last year’s two games produced three fights, with Thornton fighting Ivanans, McQuaid taking on Brandon Segal and Stuart suffering a broken finger in a bout with Simmonds.

Outlook

The Bruins have finally seemed to get things going at home. They’re still just 4-4-1 on home ice, but they’ve won their last two at the Garden and three straight overall. The Kings, meanwhile, are just 4-5-0 on the road and have lost three straight. Friday’s loss in Buffalo opened a four-game trip against Northeast Division clubs, as they go on to Ottawa and Montreal next week. The Bruins would like to see both trends continue, with a win to move over .500 at home and continue Los Angeles’ road woes.

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