Kings (23-15-10, 56 points) vs. Colorado Avalanche (25-21-2, 52 points) at Staples Center, 7:30 p.m.
Five storylines to track:
1. Time and a half – The way games are unfolding these days, the Kings might as well skip the first three periods and go straight to overtime. They’ve been tied at the end of regulation in three straight games and 10 of the last 16. Should that trend continue, the Avs will own a noticeable statistical edge. They’ve won 11 of 13 games that have stretched past regulation this season, including all seven shootouts. The Kings, meanwhile, have won just seven of 16, including four of 10 shootouts. Colorado beat the Kings in a shootout on Jan. 2 at Staples Center.
2. Good time to roll – Yes, the Kings have earned at least a point in 15 of the last 16 games but they haven’t won two straight in nearly a month. With three home games remaining before an eight-day break, followed by a six-game road trip over nine days, the Kings need to squirrel away some nuts. They went into last season’s All-Star break on a three-game winning streak and their momentum seemed to carry over to the season-long 10-game road trip that followed. They finished 6-1-3 on the trip to climb back into the thick of the Western Conference playoff race.
3. Not so fast – After getting shut out the first two months of the season, it appeared Brad Richardson might finally be getting untracked. He scored three goals in December, second most on the team. But the versatile forward seems to have fallen back into a rut, meandering through the first nine games of this month without a goal. Maybe the sight of the Avalanche across the way will warm up his stick. Richardson has five goals and two assists in 11 career games against Colorado. He scored four of his seven goals last season against the Avs.
4. Moving day? – By the time the puck drops, the Kings could be in position to move back atop the Pacific Division standings, although it would take one of those rare regulation victories. San Jose begins the day with a one-point lead over the Kings. The Sharks play at 1 p.m. in Vancouver, a team that’s been stewing since losing a shootout Tuesday night against the Kings. Of course, a return to the top of the division will be tempered by the four games in hand San Jose still has over the Kings, but it’s an admirable feat for a team that still hasn’t experienced a hot streak this season.
5. Once a Duck – The Kings were stumped by 23-year-old Russian goalie Semyon Varlamov earlier this month, but it looks like former Ducks netminder Jean-Sebastien Giguere will be stationed between the pipes. Giguere, who led the Ducks to the Stanley Cup title five years ago, has started three of the last four games as Varlamov has been unable to get his goals-against average under 3.00. Giguere is 11-6-1 with a 2.12 GAA this season.