Kings host streaking Rangers in Cup Finals rematch

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( - A rematch of last season's Stanley Cup Finals is on tap Thursday at the Staples Center, as the defending champion Los Angeles Kings welcome the red-hot New York Rangers to the City of Angels.

Los Angeles earned its second Stanley Cup title in three years last spring, polishing off the championship run with a 4-1 series victory over the Rangers. The Kings lifted the Cup on June 13 after winning a 3-2 double-overtime battle at the Staples Center.

Despite losing in the Cup Finals to the Kings, New York enters Thursday's showdown faring better in 2014-15 than the reigning champs. The Rangers are 22-11-4 thanks in large part to an 11-1-0 record over the last 12 games, while Los Angeles is 19-12-9 after losing three of its last four tilts.

Both clubs are currently holding onto the wild card spots in their respective conferences.

A hallmark of the Kings' recent championship teams has been goaltending and defense, but there was little of either to be found the last time out as L.A. lost 7-6 in overtime to the visiting Nashville Predators. The setback came at the start of a seven-game homestand and dropped the Kings to 14-4-3 as the host this season.

To their credit, the Kings were able to wrestle a point away from the Predators on Saturday despite trailing by scores of 5-1 and 6-2.

In the end, it was Roman Josi's goal 18 seconds into overtime that awarded the extra point to Nashville.

Dwight King, Marian Gaborik and Jeff Carter netted goals in a span of 1:27 late in the contest to send the game to OT for the Kings.

"We got a point. That's the way hockey works, right? I told our players several times tonight that it was going to take seven goals to win. I was right," said Kings head coach Darryl Sutter. "I don't think anything was lacking. I thought it was an exciting game."

King scored twice in the loss, while Alec Martinez -- who had the Cup- clinching goal versus the Rangers -- added a goal and two assists. Anze Kopitar had three assists for L.A. and Jake Muzzin chipped in a pair of helpers.

Jonathan Quick was pulled in the first period after allowing three goals on nine shots. Martin Jones stopped 12-of-16 shots the rest of the way to take the loss.

Quick expects to start tonight. The Kings franchise goaltender is 2-1-0 with a 1.96 goals against average in three regular-season games against the Rangers.

Not counting last season's playoff encounter, L.A. is 3-1-1 in the last five meetings with New York.

The Rangers picked up their third straight victory on Wednesday night, as they kicked off a three-game tour of California with an impressive 4-1 win over the NHL-leading Anaheim Ducks.

Henrik Lundqvist made 24 saves to anchor Wednesday's victory in Orange County and the Rangers scored three goals during the third period en route to the win.

Rick Nash, Mats Zuccarello and Dominic Moore each scored in the final stanza and Derick Brassard lit the lamp in a third straight game for the Rangers.

"I think it comes down to execution," said Lundqvist. "I really like the way we are playing."

Cam Talbot will get a turn in net tonight for the Rangers. he has never faced the Ducks.

New York is 9-6-1 on the road this season and will complete this current swing Saturday in San Jose.