Daily News Kings seek to put some distance between them and Predators


They see me rollin'. They hatin'.
Staff member
The Kings could equal their longest win streak of the season and create some separation from a team chasing them in the standings if they prevail in a rubber match against the Nashville Predators on Thursday.

They have won four straight contests and six of seven overall, a stretch that began with a fortuitous victory over these same Predators in Nashville on Jan. 31. The Preds out-lasted the Kings in a 2-1 slugfest at Crypto.com Arena on Jan. 18.

More recently, the Kings have created six points of separation between themselves and Nashville, as well as the St. Louis Blues. That progress has moved them closer to the third Pacific Division playoff slot than to the second wild-card berth.

In a 5-1 win over Columbus on Tuesday, the resurgent Cam Talbot fended off an early flurry and then made 19 stops in the third period to earn his second win in two straight starts. Pierre-Luc Dubois scored two goals. He’s notched six points in his past six games after scoring just one in his previous eight outings.

While their newest acquisition, Dubois, has awakened from a lengthy slumber, the star that was in their midst all along has continued to elevate his ceiling with each passing game. Quinton Byfield, who has 12 points in his last 10 games, is playing almost two and a half minutes more per game under newly promoted coach Jim Hiller. For the past three matches, he’s spent considerable time on the right flank of Dubois. Against Columbus, Byfield was equal parts ubiquitous and effective. He hooked up Dubois with a deft primary assist, screened the goalie on Kevin Fiala’s power-play tally, got in on Drew Doughty’s disallowed marker and scored the goal of the year thus far for the Kings to get the scoring going.


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“He does a little bit of everything out there. Yeah, he can skate, he can pass, he can shoot, he’s got good hands. All those things, you can see, but he works really hard, too. He tracks back, he forechecks, he breaks plays up,” Dubois said. “He’s just going to get better and better, but he’s really fun to play with.”

Byfield said that at this same point last season, he might have dumped in the puck that he instead took from stick to skate back to stick and then from forehand to backhand, with a lift of his defender’s twig mixed in before his jaw-dropping goal.

Hiller said that Byfield had “a tremendously bright future” and that Dubois had been “playing the game with more intensity.” That’ll need to continue, especially given the uncertain status of another impactful Kings forward, winger Viktor Arvidsson.

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Arvidsson missed the first 50 games of the season after undergoing back surgery in October and returned earlier this month. He was unable to continue after just 17 seconds of his first shift on Tuesday. No update was given on his condition on Wednesday, though, in more encouraging news, center Blake Lizotte (lower-body) participated in a limited on-ice session, per Russell Morgan of Hockey Royalty. The Kings also sent defenseman Jordan Spence to the minors, ostensibly to get him some game action with the Ontario Reign on Wednesday.

Byfield, Dubois and chums will next face Nashville, with former Norris Trophy winner Roman Josi and mainstay Filip Forsberg spearheading its attack. That pair has been joined this year by 2019’s Selke Trophy and Conn Smythe Trophy winner Ryan O’Reilly, who scored one goal and assisted on the other when Nashville beat the Kings on Jan. 18. He also contributed a goal and an assist against St. Louis, his former team, in the first of the two straight wins Nashville carries into this contest after beating Vegas 5-3 on Tuesday.

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