Preview: Kings to Honor O’Ree, Host Struggling Lightning

On Saturday, the Los Angeles Kings will welcome the Tampa Bay Lightning to Los Angeles for a Martin Luther King Jr. Day matinee meeting between the two teams. Before the game, the Kings will honor Willie O’Ree, who has been referred to as the “Jackie Robinson of ice hockey” and became the first black player to skate in an NHL game on Jan. 18, 1958 when he played for the Boston Bruins against the Montreal Canadiens.

The Kings will try to win a third consecutive game when they host Tampa Bay. Los Angeles is coming off of an overtime victory against the Winnipeg Jets where Jeff Carter scored his league-leading eighth game-winning-goal of the season. Los Angeles came back from being down late in the third period to Carter taking a Jake Muzzin pass and beating Michael Hutchinson just 1:36 into overtime.

Tampa Bay’s last game was a 3-1 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday night. The Lightning have lost five of their last six games and have been outscored 27-14 in that time.

For the Lightning, their visit to Los Angeles will be the first of a six-game road trip that will take them through the Pacific Division with games in L.A., Anaheim, San Jose and Arizona and to games in Chicago and Florida before returning home. The outcome of this trip could have major implications on Tampa Bay’s playoffs chances with them currently sitting six points out of the Eastern Conference’s playoff picture.

The Lightning will be without captain Steven Stamkos who has been out of the lineup since he went down with a knee injury on Nov. 15. He has missed Tampa Bay’s 27 games since the injury and isn’t expected to be back soon.

This will be the first meeting of the 2016-17 season between Tampa Bay and Los Angeles who will play each other only one more time before the season ends.

Tampa Bay Lightning at Los Angeles Kings

Staples Center – 1:00 p.m. PST on Saturday, Jan. 14

Broadcast channels – FS-W, SUN

2016-17 Season Series: 

First meeting this season

Los Angeles Kings – 22-17-4 – 44 Points

Home Record: 14-6-1

Hot Players: Jeff Carter, Tanner Pearson, Jake Muzzin and Anze Kopitar

Key Injuries: Tyler Toffoli and Jonathan Quick

Projected Lines:


Marian Gaborik – Anze Kopitar – Trevor Lewis

Tanner Pearson – Jeff Carter – Dustin Brown

Andy Andreoff – Nic Dowd – Devin Setoguchi

Dwight King – Nick Shore – Jordan Nolan


Derek Forbort – Drew Doughty

Jake Muzzin – Alec Martinez

Brayden McNabb – Kevin Gravel

Starting Goaltender

Peter Budaj

Victor Hedman leads Tampa Bay with 31 assists and sits in second on the team with 38 points.  (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Tampa Bay Lightning– 20-20-4 – 44 Points

Away Record: 8-12-2

Hot Players: Jonathan Drouin

Key Injuries: Steven Stamkos and Ryan Callahan

Projected Lines:


Ondrej Palat – Vladislav Namestnikov – Nikita Kucherov

Brian Boyle – Valtteri Filppula – Jonathan Drouin

Alex Killorn – Tyler Johnson – Erik Condra

Gabriel Dumont– Michael Bournival – Cedric Paquette


Victor Hedman – Anton Stralman

Nikita Nesterov – Andrej Sustr

Nikita Nesterov – Braydon Coburn

Starting Goaltender

Ben Bishop

Game Notes

[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]1)[/miptheme_dropcap] After their overtime win against the Jets, the Kings improved to 9-1 in the extra frame this season. The team’s overtime success can be largely attributed to Carter’s heroics. He is tied with Chicago’s Marian Hossa for the league lead in overtime goals with three. Overall, Los Angeles has had similar results to Carter’s and sports a gaudy 21-4 record since the three-on-three format started in 2015-16.

[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]2)[/miptheme_dropcap] Tampa Bay’s Jonathan Drouin is currently on a four-game points streak (2 goals, 3 assists) and has points in seven of his last eight games. If Drouin registers a point against the Kings on Monday he will set a career high for longest point streak.

[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]3)[/miptheme_dropcap] Anze Kopitar registered three assists in Los Angeles’ win over Winnipeg on Friday night. He has eight points (1 goal, 7 assists) in hist last six games. Carter scored goal number 23 on the season to beat the Jets and has two goals and five assists over the last four games.

[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]4)[/miptheme_dropcap] The battle between specials teams could decide who walks away with two points after this game. Going into the game, the Lightning have the third best power-play unit converting at 23.8 percent, which will be going head to head with the number ten ranked penalty kill in the Kings. Nikita Kucherov and Drouin lead Tampa Bay with six goals each while playing with the man-advantage.

[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]5)[/miptheme_dropcap]Peter Budaj won game number 20 for the Kings against the Jets, has a .917 save percentage and 2.09 goals against average. Ben Bishop and Andrei Vasilevskiy have both gone 10-10-10 when in net for Winnipeg this season and sport a team 2.96 goals against per game.