With each team looking for a season-high third straight victory Saturday, the Kings try to avoid a sixth consecutive defeat to the visiting Avalanche, who will have captain Gabriel Landeskog back in the lineup.
It took some time, but it appears the reigning Stanley Cup champions have finally hit their stride while winning four of five following a 3-5-2 start. Jeff Carter had a goal with an assist and Rob Scuderi added two assists in Los Angeles' second straight 3-1 victory Wednesday at Calgary.
"Now that we're a good portion into the season, most of the league has their legs under them and I'm not sure it's as big of a grind as it would be in an 82-game schedule," Scuderi said. "I think guys are fresh. Everybody realizes the importance of every single game now and that trumps the tired feeling in your legs."
Though the Kings (7-6-2) still rank near the bottom of the league with 36 goals, they own a 14-7 scoring advantage over their last five contests. Their only loss during that stretch came 3-2 at NHL-leading Chicago on Sunday.
"We've played well the last couple games," said forward Mike Richards, who has recorded three of his four goals while adding two assists in the last five contests. "We get to go home and play some games in front of our home crowd and hopefully we can have success at home."
With a 2-1-1 record at Staples Center, Los Angeles plays 13 of its next 16 there after a nine-game stretch with eight on the road.
"It's going to be nice to get back home," said Carter, who has a team-high eight goals.
The Kings, however, have been outscored 15-6 during an 0-4-1 skid against the Avalanche (7-7-1) following an 8-0-1 stretch in the series. Los Angeles has managed exactly one goal in each of the last four meetings.
Landeskog and David Jones each scored during a third-period rally while Semyon Varlamov made 28 saves in a 3-1 home win over the Kings on Jan. 22. Landeskog, last season's NHL rookie of the year, has missed the last 11 games with a concussion, but is slated to return and play on a line with Paul Stastny and Jones.
The Avalanche also expect veteran forward Milan Hejduk to suit up even though he left Wednesday's game with a torso injury.
Jones, a 20-goal scorer each of the last two seasons, ended a 10-game drought Wednesday when he scored for the first time since facing the Kings in a 1-0 overtime win over St. Louis.
"Hopefully this opens the floodgates a little bit for me," Jones told the NHL's official website. "I've had some good games and not scored, so now I've just got to keep going."
After allowing 10 goals on 93 shots in his previous two starts, Varlamov made 33 saves Wednesday for his second shutout. He's 4-1-0 with a 1.77 goals-against average against the Kings.