|Devils, Kings look for points in tight playoff races|
The New Jersey Devils and Los Angeles Kings enter their game Saturday afternoon at Staples Center in similar situations.
They're both clinging to playoff spots, but might also have the opportunity to move up in the standings.
The Devils hold the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference, three points in front of the Florida Panthers, who host the Edmonton Oilers about two hours before the Devils play the Kings.
New Jersey (36-26-8) can also overtake the Columbus Blue Jackets and Philadelphia Flyers for third place in the Metropolitan Division with a win against Los Angeles. The Blue Jackets and Flyers enter Saturday one point ahead of the Devils.
Columbus hosts the Ottawa Senators on Saturday night, and Philadelphia visits the Carolina Hurricanes.
The Kings (39-26-6) enter Saturday still holding third place in the Pacific Division. By how much depends on the Anaheim Ducks' result against the visiting Detroit Red Wings on Friday night. Anaheim entered Friday outside the playoffs, but just two points behind the Kings, who would hold the tiebreaker because they played one fewer game entering Saturday.
The Kings also entered Friday one point behind the second-place San Jose Sharks, who play at the Calgary Flames on Friday night.
"This time of the year it might take you all day to get the two points, but you want to make sure you stay with it and continue to do the little things well," Kings coach John Stevens said after a 4-1 win over the visiting Red Wings on Thursday. "We've got a few games left at home before we head out on the road. We all know how tight the race is. Games aren't easy. Not going to be easy."
Los Angeles is 21-9-1 against Eastern Conference teams after its win over the Red Wings. They'll likely come back with Jonathan Quick in goal. He has a 2.14 goals-against average and a .932 save percentage in his past 15 games.
Quick will likely be looking for retribution against the Devils after allowing a season-high five goals on 26 shots in a 5-1 loss in New Jersey on Dec. 12.
Los Angeles defenseman Christian Folin was a healthy scratch on Thursday night for the first time since Dec. 1. Paul LaDue entered the lineup against Detroit after serving as a healthy scratch the previous 13 games. He scored a first-period goal.
"We think he's really efficient at moving pucks and he defends really well," Stevens said of LaDue. "He can seal plays down well in his own zone and he can use his feet to make plays."
New Jersey hasn't played since scoring a season-high eight goals in an 8-3 win at the Vegas Golden Knights on Wednesday. It's the worst home loss of the season for the Pacific Division-leading Golden Knights.
"I really believe when you have nights like this, guys don't grip their sticks as tight," New Jersey forward Taylor Hall told reporters after the game. "You get points, you get goals, you're on for goals, you start feeling good about your offensive game, and we need that down the stretch.
"As much as we need to defend and keep pucks out of our net, we need to score goals and be an effective team five-on-five."
Hall leads the Devils with 31 goals and 76 points. He scored twice against the Kings in December and recently had a 19-game point streak. Hall then went pointless in back-to-back games before notching a goal and an assist against the Golden Knights.