(Sports Network) - A perfect road trip put the Kings back in the driver's seat in the Western Conference playoff race. To stay there, they'll need to avoid once again crashing and burning against the Blues. Los Angeles takes aim at a fifth straight victory and will try to avoid being swept in a season series by St. Louis for the first time since the lockout in tonight's meeting at the Staples Center.
The Kings return home for five straight after victories in Detroit, Columbus, Dallas and Nashville to run their road record to 20-14-3. They are 20-11-2 at home and now sit in a tie for fourth in the West with the Coyotes, but have a game in hand. Los Angeles is also just three points behind San Jose for first place in the Pacific Division.
Los Angeles wrapped its perfect trip on Tuesday with a 4-2 victory over the Predators. Anze Kopitar set a new club record by skating in his 325th straight game and celebrated with a goal and assist. Wayne Simmonds, Alec Martinez and Dustin Brown also scored and Jonathan Bernier made 30 saves for the Kings, who have posted back-to-back 40-win seasons for the first time in club history. They have also won four straight for the first time since Dec. 21-27 and can post the second-longest win streak this year with a win tonight, behind only a season-best six-game run from Oct. 28-Nov. 13.
"These were all very big games, very meaningful for everybody," Kings head coach Terry Murray said. "To win four in a row like this, at this time of the year, it's a big dig-in by everybody. Everybody came into this road trip with a playoff mentality and did the right things in most of the games, certainly enough to get the job done. Now we've got to make sure we're bringing this attitude back, and do the same thing at Staples Center."
Despite their season-long success, the Kings have been unable to solve the Blues. Los Angeles has lost six straight to the club, including three meetings this year, and will try to avoid being swept in the season series for the first time since 2003-04.
Los Angeles has lost three straight at home to St. Louis. It is unknown if Murray will stick with Bernier tonight or go back to No. 1 Jonathan Quick. Bernier has lost his only other start versus the Blues, while Quick is just 1-6-1 with a 3.09 goals-against average when facing them.
St. Louis may be sliding into the role of spoiler after last night's 2-1 loss in Anaheim put them 10 points back of a playoff spot with 12 games to play. Nathan Oystrick scored the lone goal and Jaroslav Halak made 22 saves for the Blues, who have dropped their past two games and six of nine.
"We got on the board early in the game and they answered right back," Blues head coach Davis Payne said. "I think it was a situation where we needed to make it a territorial game, whether it was the offensive zone or clean plays through the neutral zone. I thought we did that. I thought we had some zone time, but their offensive zone play got them a win."
Like Murray, Payne also has a choice to make in goal tonight. However, it may be a win-win as Halak is a perfect 4-0 with a 1.50 GAA in his career against the Kings, including two wins this year, while backup Ty Conklin is 6-1-0 with a 2.30 GAA versus them. St. Louis lost the opener of a four-game road trip and has lost four of its last five overall as the guest.
For more news and information on tonight's game, be sure to read Jewels From The Crown.