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Jonathan Bernier to start as Kings seek sixth straight home win

March 05, 2013|By Helene Elliott
  • Jonathan Bernier will get the start for the Kings against the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday night as L.A. goes for its sixth consecutive home win.
Jonathan Bernier will get the start for the Kings against the St. Louis Blues… (Mark J. Terrill / Associated…)

First, happy birthday to Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi, who turned 55 on Tuesday. “He’s eligible for a pension,” Coach Darryl Sutter said.

No one is about to pension him off just yet.

The Kings approached Tuesday’s game against the St. Louis Blues at Staples Center — the second of a rare back-to-back sequence at home — having won six of their previous seven games and eight of their previous 10. That put them in a cluster of six Western Conference teams tied with 24 points and ranked them fifth because they’ve played fewer games than most of their rivals and have more regulation and overtime wins (10).

Goaltender Jonathan Bernier, who earned an 18-save victory over Nashville on Monday to run his personal winning streak to five, was scheduled to start his second straight game. 

“He didn’t have a lot of work [Monday] night and he was pretty sharp,” Sutter said. “It will be 24 hours, he’s game-ready. It’s really nothing other than that. And he played in St. Louis last time. We play every other day from here on. [Jonathan Quick] will be fresh and ready.”

The Kings also had built a five-game home winning streak, which might suggest they’re establishing a presence at Staples Center. That could be important, since they’re scheduled to play 10 home games this month, split into two five-game homestands.

But Sutter downplayed that suggestion, saying they’re simply intent on winning no matter where they’re playing.

“We really haven’t talked about it at all. We’ve just tried to do it more by the schedule,” he said. “Because it seems like when we’ve been at home we’re just playing games and we haven’t had a chance to do anything other than that. So you just try to stay in the moment and not look ahead.

“I was even asking Dean when we were driving in today if he could ever remember playing back-to-back nights at home. That’s a challenge for your team. And then next week you play at home and then you play the next night on the road,” he added, referring to a March 11 home game against Calgary and then a March 12 game at Phoenix.”

One other seemingly interesting statistic didn’t mean much to him: the Kings have given up only two third-period goals in their last eight games, the first an empty-netter at Vancouver last Saturday and the other to the Predators after they had built a 5-0 lead.

That would seem to mean the Kings have clamped down defensively — but not so, Sutter said.

“I don’t think we’ve done that at all. Even [Monday] night we talked about trying to score the next goal. And play like we were down a goal, not up a goal,” he said.

“It’s just a way of perpetuating what you’re doing system-wise. You have to reinforce it and the outcome will take care of itself. Just worried about wins and losses. Shift by shift and period by period, and that way you can sustain something and hope you have something that can carry over as good into the next game.”

Check back later for more coverage.

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