|Date of game: 3/6/2014
Los Angeles Kings (35-22-6) at Winnipeg Jets (30-26-7), 7 p.m. (ET)
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Los Angeles Kings expect to insert trade acquisition Marian Gaborik into the lineup on Thursday when they visit the Winnipeg Jets for a battle at MTS Centre.
Gaborik, a speedy winger prone to injury, has the ability to help the low- scoring Kings add some offense to their arsenal. A seven-time 30-goal scorer, the 32-year-old Slovakian has battled injuries this season but still had six goals and eight assists in 22 games with the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2013-14.
The Kings, who are ranked 27th in the NHL with an average of 2.32 goals per game, acquired Gaborik from the Blue Jackets for forward Matt Frattin and two draft selections prior to Wednesday's trade deadline. The picks are conditional (second-round pick and a third-round slot if the Kings win a first-round playoff series or re-sign Gaborik) and Columbus has agreed to keep a portion of Gaborik's salary on the books.
Despite its scoring issues in 2013-14, L.A. enters Thursday's tilt on a five- game winning streak. The club is currently sitting third in the Pacific Division and is eight points ahead of Dallas for the last of the division's three automatic bids to the playoffs.
Los Angeles has won four in a row since the NHL returned from its Olympic break and Darryl Sutter's team is coming off Monday's 2-1 victory over the visiting Montreal Canadiens. Jonathan Quick made 17 saves to help the Kings edge the Habs at the Staples Center.
"We didn't give up much," Quick said. "We didn't give up many opportunities. We want to stick to playing that way. It was a big win but we've got to move on now."
Jeff Carter and Jake Muzzin each had a goal for the Kings.
L.A. is beginning a three-game road trip on Thursday. The Kings, who are 16-12-3 as the guest this season, also will visit Edmonton and Calgary before returning the City of Angels for a five-game homestand.
The Jets opted to stand pat at Wednesday's trade deadline, but Winnipeg did make news of both the good and bad varieties.
Winnipeg began Wednesday with bad news by announcing center Mark Scheifele will miss a significant chunk of time after suffering a sprained medial collateral ligament in one of his knees. Scheifele suffered the injury in the second period of Tuesday's 3-2 overtime loss to the New York Islanders in a collision with Isles defenseman Calvin de Haan.
Estimated recovery time for the injury is expected to be 6-to-8 weeks, but Jets head coach Paul Maurice stated that it will not require surgery and Scheifele's status will be updated in a few weeks. The 20-year-old, who was taken with the seventh-overall pick in the 2011 draft, has totaled 13 goals and 34 assists in his first full NHL campaign.
Later on Wednesday, the Jets signed defenseman Mark Stuart to a four-year contract worth $10.5 million for the duration. Stuart, who was set to become an unrestricted free agent in July, has skated in 50 games and posted two goals, nine points and 81 penalty minutes. In addition, the 29-year-old leads the club in hits (163) and blocked shots (118).
Winnipeg, which is one point behind Dallas for the last playoff spot in the West, lost for the third time in five games in Tuesday's outing against the visiting Islanders. However, the Jets have lost just once in regulation over the past eight outings, going 5-1-2 during that stretch.
Michael Grabner split two defenders on a mad rush to the net in overtime and went top shelf to lift the Islanders to the 3-2 win on Tuesday.
Ondrej Pavelec stopped 24 shots for the Jets, who had a two-game winning streak snapped despite Andrew Ladd's two goals.
Tuesday's tilt began a three-game homestand for Winnipeg, which is 15-11-5 as the host this season.
Winnipeg notched a 5-3 win over Los Angeles back on Oct. 4 in the first of three scheduled meetings between the clubs this season. The Jets have won both of their meetings against the Kings since the franchise relocated from Atlanta to Winnipeg prior to the 2011-12 campaign.