The Los Angeles Kings had to hit the reset button again heading into their game against the visiting Vancouver Canucks on Thursday night.
The Kings posted a 3-2 win over the Washington Capitals on Dec. 19 before seeing their next three games postponed by the NHL because of several COVID-19 outbreaks. Los Angeles got in two days of practice before dropping a 6-3 decision to the visiting Vegas Golden Knights in an error-filled game Tuesday.
The Kings sought to pinpoint their mistakes during a long film session Wednesday and correct them during an on-ice practice afterward.
Los Angeles coach Todd McLellan said he’s confident his team is ready to put Tuesday’s dud in its rear-view mirror and get back to playing like the club that went 5-2-1 over a two-week span before the schedule was paused.
“For me, it finally feels like we’re back to where we need to be,” McLellan said. “I didn’t feel that the first two days of practice. It does feel like that now.”
McLellan said he plans to start veteran goaltender Jonathan Quick against the Canucks. Quick gave up five goals on 15 shots against the Golden Knights and was replaced early in the second period.
Cal Petersen, who has made 11 starts in goal for the Kings this season, came off the NHL’s COVD-19 protocol list on Wednesday and likely will back up Quick.
Phillip Danault, who is tied for fourth on the Kings with 14 points, also practiced Wednesday after exiting protocol. He will be a game-time decision, McLellan said.
Defenseman Olli Maatta and Dustin Brown remain in protocol for Los Angeles.
The Kings welcomed back their best defenseman, Drew Doughty, against Vegas after he spent time in protocol, but McLellan could see the rust in Doughty’s first game back.
“We saw with Drew how hard it is to get your game back,” McLellan said. “He had a really tough night (against the Golden Knights) and he’d be the first to tell you that. He hadn’t played for two weeks, and he’s only played seven or eight of our last 25 games. He didn’t need the extended break, and it showed. Every individual is going to be different.”
The Canucks are expected to start their own veteran goaltender.
Jaroslav Halak, 36, likely will be in net after Thatcher Demko made 22 saves in a 2-1 overtime win at the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday night. It was the first game for the Canucks since Dec. 16 and their seventh straight win under new coach Bruce Boudreau.
Halak is 6-10-2 in his career against the Kings with a 2.47 goals-against average and .912 save percentage.
The Canucks also are shorthanded due to COVID-19, as they learned earlier Wednesday that forwards Brock Boeser and defenseman Phillip Di Giuseppe had tested positive.
Boeser led the Canucks in goals (23) and points (49) while playing in all 56 games last season.
Tanner Pearson, who scored against the Ducks on Wednesday, said before the game that he looks forward to returning to Los Angeles. He played in parts of six seasons with the Kings before he was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins for Carl Hagelin on Nov. 14, 2018.
“L.A. always has a special place in my heart, for sure,” Pearson said.
–Field Level Media