Offense Meets Defense As Pens Host Kings

Sidney Crosby and the Penguins will look to earn a big win over the Kings.

Sidney Crosby and the Penguins will look to earn a big win over the Kings.

The best offense in the National Hockey League meets the best defense Thursday night as the Pittsburgh Penguins host the Los Angeles Kings in an inter-conference battle.

Opening faceoff at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. ET.

The matchup offers an early chance to see how the two Stanley Cup contenders measure up against each other, as well as providing the teams with an opportunity to leave the building with bragging rights.

The Story So Far

Pittsburgh (5-2-1, 3-2-0, home) has lent on its offense through the early part of the season, something we’ve become used to seeing.

The Penguins handed the New Jersey Devils an 8-3 drubbing on Tuesday night, bringing the total number of goals scored this season to 33. The club’s 4.1 goal average leads the league.

Dan Bylsma’s side has tallied two or more goals in every game of the season so far, and scored three-plus goals in seven of eight. This offensive onslaught has seen the team sitting pretty towards the top of the Eastern Conference standings.

While the Penguins have been bothering the scoreboard, Los Angeles (6-1-2, 0-0-2 road) has edged its way to within two points of the Western Conference’s top spot thanks to a stingy defense.

Since losing 4-0 to the San Jose Sharks in their season-opener, the defending Stanley Cup champions have not dropped a game in regulation.

A 3-2 overtime loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday snapped a six-game winning streak in which the Kings allowed just five goals. Still, the team’s 1.70 goals against average is the league’s best.

Darryl Sutter will now hope his team’s defense can get the better of Pittsburgh’s swarming offense in what is the pick of Thursday night’s hockey action.

Head-to-Head

Los Angeles leads the all-time head-to-head with 71 wins to Pittsburgh’s 61. The two clubs have tied 18 games.

The Penguins have earned three overtime/shootout wins since the inception of the no-tie rule, while the Kings have won in the extra frame just once.

The two sides split a pair of games in the 2013-14 campaign, with each side taking home the victory on the road.

Pittsburgh has been victorious in six of the last eight meetings between the two clubs.

Impact Players

The familiar duo of Sidney Crosby (7G, 7A, 14pts) and Evgeni Malkin (4G, 7A, 11pts) have paced the Penguins in scoring through the early part of the season. Only Dallas’ Tyler Seguin (7G, 8A, 15pts) has more points than Crosby, while Malkin has registered a point in every game so far.

Penguins’ newcomer Patric Hornqvist (5G, 6A, 11pts) has been a pleasant surprise for the club.

Pittsburgh netminder Marc-Andre Fleury (5-2-0, 2.44 GAA, .912 SV%) has allowed more than his fair share of goals this season, but with teams playing chase with the Penguins that’s to be expected.

Los Angeles is led by Tyler Toffoli (5G, 8A, 13pts) and Jeff Carter (5G, 7A, 12pts) who have played a pivotal role in the offense early this season. Tanner Pearson (7G, 2A, 9pts) has also put some good work in.

Jonathan Quick (5-1-2, 1.78 GAA, .950 SV%) has been exceptional between the pipes for the Kings, and is a big part of why Los Angeles has the best defensive record in the league through the opening three weeks of the season.

Injury Report

Los Angeles has concerns regarding a trio of forwards. Trevor Lewis (upper body) is out indefinitely while Marian Gaborik (upper body) and Anze Kopitar (lower body) are both listed as day-to-day.

The shorthanded Kings are expected to recall winger David Van der Guick before the game.

Pittsburgh forward Beau Bennett (wrist) is out indefinitely, as is defenseman Robert Bortuzzo (undisclosed).

See the full injury report

Can Jonathan Quick and the Kings' defense put a stop to the high-scoring Penguins?

Can Jonathan Quick and the Kings’ defense put a stop to the high-scoring Penguins?

Betting Report

Below you’ll find Betting Sports’ breakdown of odds and betting trends.

 Los Angeles Kings vs. Pittsburgh Penguins odds for 10/30/2014

Moneyline: Pittsburgh (-145) opened as the favorite over Los Angeles (+132) on the moneyline and has seen that advantage stretch further as game time approaches.

The Penguins will be looking to earn a seventh win in nine games against the Kings. Los Angeles won in Pittsburgh last season, snapping a three-game losing streak in the Steel City.

Spread: The Kings are favored to cover the 1.5-goal spread.

Pittsburgh is 5-3-0 ATS so far this season.

Los Angeles is 4-5-0 ATS through the first nine games of the campaign.

Total: The total opened at 5 but has subsequently risen to 5.5 with some sportsbooks.

High-scoring Pittsburgh (5-3-0 O/U) has understandably favored the over this season, while defensive-minded Los Angeles (2-4-3 O/U) has favored the under.

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