March 05, 2015

Six weeks ago, the Los Angeles Kings were comfortably atop the Pacific Division. That's now over, and the Kings have another matchup with the team that caught them looming large.

With a visit from Anaheim on the horizon, Los Angeles will try to avoid overlooking the struggling Montreal Canadiens while debuting its latest addition Thursday night.

The Kings (37-21-4) are tied with the Ducks for first place in the Pacific after leading by 14 points as recently as Jan. 20. Los Angeles' 8-8-1 stretch coupled with Anaheim's incredible 23-4-2 run since Christmas has the bitter rivals now deadlocked.

They'll meet at Staples Center on Saturday after Los Angeles' four-game winning streak ended with Sunday's 4-2 defeat in Anaheim. However, before the Kings make a bid for revenge, they'll host Montreal while the Ducks visit Arizona.

In an effort to add depth up front, the Kings acquired veteran forward Kris Versteeg in a trade with Carolina on Sunday. Versteeg, who has 11 goals and 33 points this season, is a two-time Stanley Cup winner with Chicago.

"I think he gives us some depth and the ability to finish and play all positions for us," coach Darryl Sutter said. "It's important. (Marian Gaborik is) out, and I think that it showed up even (Sunday) where we've been using 3 1/2 lines, basically, when you look at minutes played. Especially in back-to-backs, you need four lines, four good lines."

With Gaborik on long-term injured reserve due to a knee injury, Versteeg has a chance to make an immediate impact.

"I think you don't want to just put your toe in the water, you want to jump right in and try to play whatever way you can that will help the team immediately and make and immediate impact in whatever way that might be," Versteeg told the team's official website. "I have one goal coming here, and that's to win a Stanley Cup."

For now, Versteeg will have to be satisfied with helping the Kings to a fourth straight win at home.

Jonathan Quick has won his last two starts there, stopping 48 of 50 shots. He's 3-2-1 with a 1.84 goals-against average in his last six games, but he wasn't particularly sharp while making 25 saves against the Ducks on Sunday.

Quick has a .951 save percentage during a three-start win streak against the Canadiens, including a season-high 45-save effort in a 3-0 victory at Montreal on Dec. 17.

Goaltending remains a sore spot for the Canadiens (30-28-6), who continue to be without Carey Price (leg). That's the biggest reason why they're six points behind Pittsburgh for the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.

Montreal has given up an average of 3.68 goals while going 5-15-2 on the road in 22 games without the reigning Vezina Trophy and MVP winner.

The Canadiens lost for the seventh time in eight road games Wednesday, falling 3-2 in a shootout at Anaheim after opening this four-game trip with Monday's 6-2 defeat to San Jose.

Ben Scrivens is expected to get the nod against his former team. He's lost all four decisions with a 3.99 GAA in five road starts with the Canadiens, and is 1-3-0 with a 4.26 GAA in five career meetings with the Kings.

Alex Galchenyuk has five goals in four games after scoring twice against the Ducks. His 19 goals are one shy of his career high from last season, but he has no points in five games against Los Angeles.

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