(SportsNetwork.com) - The Los Angeles Kings will try to post consecutive wins for the first time in 2015 when they visit the Columbus Blue Jackets for Monday's battle at Nationwide Arena.
The Kings were 0-3-0 at the start of a five-game road trip before Saturday's 4-2 win in Tampa. The victory snapped a four-game slide as the guest and marked the first road win for Los Angeles since beating Vancouver on Jan. 1.
Picking up road wins has been a struggle all season long for the defending Stanley Cup champion Kings, who are just 6-12-6 away from L.A. this season.
The Kings haven't won consecutive road games since beating Minnesota and Arizona on Nov. 26 and Dec. 4. Darryl Sutter's club last had a win streak of any kind from Dec. 18-20 when it downed St. Louis and the Coyotes in two straight.
Despite winning two of the NHL's last three titles and reaching the Western Conference finals in each of the past three seasons, it's possible L.A. won't even qualify for the playoffs in 2015. The Kings enter Monday's test in Ohio five points behind the Calgary Flames for the final wild card spot in the West.
L.A. will host the Flames on Thursday when it begins a three-game stay at Staples Center.
The Blue Jackets, who made the postseason for only the second time in club history last spring, are up against even bigger odds in the East, as Columbus is 14 points out of playoff spot.
Los Angeles jumped on Ben Bishop for three goals on nine shots in the first period on Saturday and chased the Lightning goaltender from the game after 20 minutes.
The Bolts were able to cut into the Kings' early three-goal lead and trailed only 3-2 after Victor Hedman scored early in the third period. However, Justin Williams posted his second goal of the game at 7:46 of the final stanza to arrive at the final margin.
Robyn Regehr added two assists for the Kings, while Drew Doughty and Tyler Toffoli added goals in L.A.'s third win in its last 10 overall. Jonathan Quick stopped 26-of-28 shots for the victory.
"A win is important no matter where you get it," Quick said. "Two points is what we needed. We scored four goals and that should be enough most nights."
Quick is expected to start tonight in the final tilt of the trip. He boasts a 12-5-0 record and 1.94 goals against average in 17 career games against the Blue Jackets.
Although the Blue Jackets face long odds at getting back to the playoffs, they have been impressive over their last two contests, outscoring St. Louis and Ottawa by a combined 11-2 margin.
A day after snapping the Blues' club-record 13-game point streak with Friday's 7-1 rout at home, Columbus went to Canada's capital city and posted a 4-1 triumph over the Senators.
In the absence of injured franchise goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, Curtis McElhinney won both games over the weekend. McElhinney, who is expected to start again tonight, stopped 34 shots to secure the win in Ottawa.
Cam Atkinson and Scott Hartnell fueled the offense with a goal and an assist each. Mark Letestu and Nick Foligno also scored for the Blue Jackets.
"It certainly wasn't as close as the score indicates," said Letestu. "They battled us the whole game and their goalie was really sharp tonight."
Columbus lost a pair of defensemen to injuries in Friday's game. Ryan Murray left with a high ankle sprain and is expected to miss the next 4-to-6 weeks, while James Wisniewski suffered a lower-body injury against the Blues that caused him to miss Saturday's tilt. Wisniewski will sit out tonight.
The Jackets are beginning a two-game homestand tonight and won't close the residency until hosting Philadelphia on Friday.
Columbus has not fared well against the Kings in recent years, losing two straight, five of six and 13 of the last 17 encounters in this series. However, L.A. has lost two of the last three meetings at Nationwide Arena.