Marian Gaborik will celebrate a significant milestone in a familiar arena - the “World’s Most Famous Arena,” in fact. Gaborik will skate in his 1,000th career NHL game against one of his former teams on Friday when he leads the Los Angeles Kings into Madison Square Garden to face the New York Rangers.
Gaborik signed with the Rangers as a free agent prior to the 2009-10 season and promptly matched a career high with 42 goals in that campaign while setting personal bests in assists (44) and points (86). “To play 1,000 games is a great accomplishment, and to do it and get 800 points I think is a great accomplishment, and to his credit, he’s a big part of a championship team,” Kings coach John Stevens said of Gaborik, who has 400 goals and as many assists. While Los Angeles saw its eight-game winning streak come to a halt with a 5-1 setback in New Jersey on Tuesday, New York fell for the third time in four contests with a 3-2 loss at Ottawa the following day. The Rangers look to get back on track versus the Kings, against whom they swept the season series in 2016-17 and own a 7-3-3 mark in the last 13 games overall.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, NHL Network, Sportsnet, TVAS, FSN West (Los Angeles), MSG (New York)
ABOUT THE KINGS (20-9-3): Jonathan Quick’s six-game winning streak ended with a thud as the 2012 Conn Smythe Trophy recipient allowed five goals, marking just the fourth time all season that he permitted more than three in a contest. Quick aims to bounce back in what is nearly a home game for the Connecticut native, who expects to have friends and family in attendance. Captain Anze Kopitar has made himself at home this season with team-leading totals in goals (16), assists (22) and points (38), although he was held off the scoresheet versus the Devils after posting four straight multi-point performances.
ABOUT THE RANGERS (16-12-3): Mats Zuccarello increased his team-leading totals in assists (18) and points (25) by setting up Michael Grabner’s club-best 15th goal early in the second period on Wednesday. The 30-year-old Norwegian has caught his stride with 17 points (five goals, 12 assists, plus-12 rating) in his last 19 games and enters Friday’s tilt with optimism after scoring a goal and set up two others versus the Kings last season. Speaking of Grabner, the 30-year-old Austrian set a single-game career high with four points (two goals, two assists) against Los Angeles on Dec. 19, 2015.
1. New York LW Chris Kreider has registered nine points (five goals, four assists) in the last 11 games and is one goal shy of 100 for his career.
2. Los Angeles’ top-ranked penalty kill has been pierced for a power-play goal in each of its last three contests.
3. Rangers LW Pavel Buchnevich has collected 19 points (10 goals, nine assists) in the last 22 contests.
PREDICTION: Rangers 3, Kings 2