The Los Angeles Kings should have the fresher legs when they host the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday evening.
The Kings have played just one game since Nov. 25, a 2-1 loss to the visiting Washington Capitals on Wednesday.
The Avalanche, meanwhile, have played three games in that span, most recently losing 4-3 in a shootout at the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday night.
Los Angeles coach Todd McLellan said he wanted to make sure the Kings retained some rhythm during the gap between games, so he had them simulate a number of game situations during practice on Friday.
“We’ve been practicing a lot, which I think has helped us, but sometimes I think you can de-train in those situations,” McLellan said. “So, we wanted to get a lot of game situations in. Call it a scrimmage, but it was really controlled, there were a lot of different aspects to it and it was competitive. It was something that we needed.”
Los Angeles had won five in a row before the setback against Washington.
The Kings enter the game with the second-lowest goals-against average in the NHL (2.35) and lead in goals per game (3.85). They also have a 9-0-0 record on the road, but McLellan still sees plenty of areas that need improvement.
He said the Kings can be more efficient on the power play, where they entered Saturday ranked 17th in the league at 20 percent.
“A 20 percent power play isn’t that bad and we can’t be over-adjusting things and over-tinkering things,” he said. “They have to be able to use some of their instincts, but there are some things that we think we can do better in certain areas and we’ve addressed them.”
Colorado’s loss to the Ducks on Saturday night came on the heels of a 4-3 overtime loss at the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday.
“We’re just not generating enough offense for a full game,” Colorado defenseman Devon Toews said. “We had a good first 20 (minutes against Anaheim), we thought, and did a lot of really good things we talked about, and then we just kind of faded from there.”
Colorado will start No. 1 goalie Alexandar Georgiev after Ivan Prosvetov started against the Ducks on Saturday night.
Georgiev was the first NHL goalie to reach 10 wins this season and continues to lead the league with 13 victories.
He faced the Kings in the season opener and stopped 34 of 36 shots in the 5-2 victory by Colorado in Los Angeles.
Overall, Georgiev is 2-2-1 in five career starts against the Kings with a .913 save percentage and 2.98 goals-against average.
Colorado defenseman Cale Makar, who is tied for fourth in the NHL with 34 points, did not play the end of regulation or overtime against the Ducks because of an undisclosed injury. Coach Jared Bednar did not have a further update on the injury or whether he’d be available against the Kings.
The Kings are close to getting forward Blake Lizotte back after he missed the past four games with an undisclosed injury sustained against the St. Louis Blues on Nov. 18.
Lizotte, who had four goals and three assists in 16 games before he was injured, practiced in full on Thursday and Friday, but still wore a non-contact jersey.
McLellan said Lizotte will accompany the Kings on their four-game road trip that begins Tuesday against the Columbus Blue Jackets, though he had not been ruled out against Colorado.
–Field Level Media