Kings try to match road win streak in clash with Pens

( - The Los Angeles Kings will try to match the longest road winning streak in team history when they visit the struggling Pittsburgh Penguins for Thursday's encounter at CONSOL Energy Center.

The Kings have won seven straight on the road, including the first two tests of a three-game trip, to improve their away record this season to 21-12-3. Another victory tonight in the Steel City would allow Los Angeles to tie the franchise's longest road winning streak set from Dec. 18, 1974-Jan. 16, 1975.

With four consecutive victories overall, Los Angeles has helped bolster its standing as the third-place team in the Pacific Division. The top three clubs in each division, of course, earn automatic bids to the playoffs.

The Kings are nine points ahead of fourth-place Phoenix with nine games left in the regular season for both teams. The Coyotes play Thursday evening in New Jersey. L.A. is 11 points behind second-place Anaheim and the Ducks hold a game in hand over the Kings.

Darryl Sutter's club earned its 12th win in 15 games with Tuesday's 5-4 shootout triumph in Washington. That victory came one day after the Kings opened their road trip with a 3-2 regulation win in Philadelphia.

The Kings rallied from a two-goal deficit in the third period on Tuesday, scoring three times to go up 4-3, but Washington rookie Evgeny Kuznetsov forced overtime by scoring inside the final minute of regulation.

After an entertaining overtime period didn't produce a game-winning tally, Kings winger Jeff Carter won it in the shootout, ripping a wrister past Jaroslav Halak's glove.

Dustin Brown and Dwight King each had a goal and one assist for the Kings, while Jonathan Quick stopped 23 shots through overtime. Neither Kuznetsov or Eric Fehr were able to beat Quick in the shootout before Carter netted the clincher.

"You can't sit back and wait for things to happen. You have to create them," Brown said of his team's slow start. "Like I said, we needed to do that from the get-go. It makes it easier on everyone if we can start it that way."

After completing its road trip tonight, L.A. will head back to the West Coast for a three-game homestand. The stay at Staples Center begins with Saturday's test against the Winnipeg Jets.

Although the Penguins hold a comfortable lead atop the Metropolitan Division standings, the club hasn't looked much like a division champ lately. Pittsburgh has lost two straight and five of its last seven games and is coming off a 3-2 regulation setback in Tuesday's game against visiting Phoenix.

The Pens fell to 1-2-0 on a four-game homestand with the loss against the Coyotes. Pittsburgh was tied with Phoenix at 2-2 after the opening period, but couldn't find the net after that as Mikkel Boedker came through with the deciding score late in the second period for the Coyotes.

Jussi Jokinen and Taylor Pyatt scored for the Penguins. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 26 shots in defeat.

"I don't find any joy in losing and really not playing well," Pittsburgh head coach Dan Bylsma said. "There's no excuse there for that, in terms of our play."

Pittsburgh's narrow defeat came hours after the club revealed that star forward Evgeni Malkin will miss 2-to-3 weeks with a foot injury. Malkin joins a long list of injured Penguins, a group that includes valuable defensemen Kris Letang and Paul Martin.

Despite their recent struggles, however, the Pens still hold an 11-point lead over the New York Rangers for the Metro lead.

The Pens hope their recent history against the Kings can get them back on the right track Thursday. Pittsburgh has claimed three straight and six of the past seven encounters in this series and recorded a 4-1 win in Los Angeles on Jan. 30.

Pittsburgh also has won three straight over the Kings in the Steel City, where L.A. hasn't won since posting a 3-0 win at the Igloo on Oct. 10, 2003.

The Penguins are 26-7-2 as the home team this season.