Kings take on Kraken, try to maintain playoff position

The Los Angeles Kings hope returning home to face the Seattle Kraken on Wednesday night will be enough to help them snap a three-game losing streak at a particularly vital point of the season.

The Kings (38-25-11, 87 points) are clinging to the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference, three points ahead of St. Louis with eight games left for Los Angeles and seven for the Blues.

“Home ice is going to help,” Kings defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov said. “The crowd is going to cheer for us, so that’s huge. We haven’t played at home in a while, and that’s going to help us for sure.”

The Kings are coming off a 4-3 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Monday that capped a four-game Canadian trip.

Los Angeles should have forward Phillip Danault back in the lineup after he missed the past two games with an upper-body injury. He was considered a game-time decision against the Jets.

Danault has 17 goals this season, sixth most on the Kings.

Los Angeles interim coach Jim Hiller has been impressed with the way Blake Lizotte has elevated his play in Danault’s absence.

“He was playing 12, 13, 14 minutes a night with 11 (forwards), so he’s done a great job,” Hiller said of Lizotte. “He gives you everything he’s got, you know that every time, and he’s really carried the puck and he’s been dangerous for us offensively, too.”

Hiller also liked what he saw during the NHL debut of center Akil Thomas against Winnipeg.

The second-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft played just 3:42, but he delivered three hits during that span.

“The speed of this game and the physicality, it’s a tough one to walk into for your first game, I can tell you that,” Hiller said. “He showed himself well.

“He didn’t play that much and if he gets another one, he’ll probably end up playing a little bit more.”

The Kraken (31-30-13, 75 points) have regrouped following an eight-game losing streak last month and have won three of their past four, including a 4-2 win at the San Jose Sharks on Monday.

Shane Wright, the fourth overall pick in the 2022 draft, was recalled from Coachella Valley of the American Hockey League and scored his first goal of the season in his first appearance for Seattle since Nov. 13.

“Definitely felt comfortable out there, for sure,” Wright said. “Definitely felt like I belong out there.”

Wright skated on a line with veterans Jordan Eberle and Jaden Schwartz, which made his return to the NHL much smoother.

“I felt really good (Monday),” Wright said. “Obviously, happy with the result as well, and try to keep it going here.”

The Kraken haven’t beaten a team in a playoff spot since a 4-3 win against the Jets on March 5.

The Kings and Kraken split their first two meetings this season. Los Angeles won the first matchup 3-2 in a shootout on Dec. 16. Four days later, Seattle pulled off a 2-1 win.

Seattle is on the verge of officially being eliminated from the playoffs, while the Kings are desperate to keep themselves in the postseason hunt.

“Every single night, it’s got to be two points for us,” Gavrikov said.

–Field Level Media