Daily News Kings should have plenty of motivation in hosting Islanders Monday


They see me rollin'. They hatin'.
Staff member
On Monday, the Kings will have a shot at not only two critical points but also to get vengeance against the New York Islanders and their captain, Anders Lee.

Lee and his colleagues won a 3-2 thriller on Long Island that saw the captain score two third-period goals to send the match to overtime and also make two highly questionable plays on Kings players. He appeared to slew foot Arthur Kaliyev, after which the Uzbek-American winger was confounded by the non-call. Lee made a knee-on-knee hit that injured defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov, which did not result in a penalty either.

That Dec. 9 contest was the Kings’ first road loss of the season after winning a record 11 straight away games to kick off the campaign. Gavrikov, who attempted to play the following night at Madison Square Garden and then missed the next five games, has not been quite the same player since. The defeat was the first of three straight for the Kings and a harbinger of a calamitous stretch that saw them drop 14 of 16 games.

Gavrikov, Andreas Englund and Jacob Moverare have been manning the left side of the Kings’ defense lately, and have each experienced difficulty and shown reluctance transporting the puck, exacerbating the Kings’ struggles on zone exits. That while the organization’s top prospect, right-shooting Brandt Clarke, has largely languished, either on the bench or, as was the case Saturday against Dallas, in the pressbox. The imminent return of the Kings’ most mobile left defender, Mikey Anderson, should help in that regard, with forward Adrian Kempe enriching their speed and fluidity with his return against Dallas on Saturday.

Kempe’s comeback hardly energized a group that fell 4-1 to a formidable Dallas Stars squad that had already beaten the Kings 5-1 near the outset of the campaign.

Now the Kings, who didn’t practice Sunday, will have to contend with Lee, leading scorer Mathew Barzal, blue-line savant Noah Dobson, former divisional foe Bo Horvat and 2023 Vezina Trophy finalist Ilya Sorokin. The Islanders have won five straight games and have vaulted themselves into the wild-card race under legendary goalie Patrick Roy, who took over as head coach in January.

“They play a similar game to Dallas, they’re a big, strong team,” Kings interim coach Jim Hiller said. “They’re a desperate team, right? They’re fighting for the playoffs, so we’re going to see their best, and they better see our best because it’s going to be a playoff-style game, and we should be just as desperate as they are.”

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Against two Stanley contenders on this season-long homestand, the Kings have mustered just two goals. Though they went 0-for-4 on the power play against Dallas, they had just one man-advantage opportunity across their previous two games, going 0-for-1 against the Vancouver Canucks and not drawing a single penalty in an overtime win over the last-place Ottawa Senators.

“That’s generally a place where most teams, us included, can create some offense,” Hiller said. “When we create offense, where we have the puck and you’re dangerous, you just feel better. We didn’t do that at all on our power play tonight, so we had nothing to feel good about.”

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