The surprising Carolina Hurricanes will try and keep their hot start going on Friday night when they face a Los Angeles Kings team that is coming off one of its biggest wins of the young season. The Hurricanes’ two wins this season have come thanks to the play of backup goaltender Anton Khudobin, who led them past the Washington Capitals with a 30-save performance on Wednesday. They will likely turn back to Cam Ward to face the Kings, and the veteran netminder will face a tough test against a loaded Kings offense as he tries to record his first win of the season. Staring at him from the other end of the ice will be Jonathan Quick, who rebounded from a pair of tough losses to get an overtime win over the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday.
On paper, the two teams are closely matched this season. The Kings have averaged 2.5 goals per game, while the Hurricanes have scored an average of 2.25 on their opponents. Their average of goals allowed, shots per game and shots allowed per game are all also similar, and there is a good chance this game could come down to play between the pipes. The Hurricanes will want to be sure and limit the Kings’ power play chances, after seeing L.A. convert three of their chances against the Senators. Friday’s matchup provides an interesting goaltending battle as Quick, one of the top netminders in the game today, battles Ward, who is only a few years removed from being one of the best in the game. Both are Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe Trophy winners, and each is still trying to establish consistency this season. While it could seem that Khudobin’s play would create a bit of controversy in Carolina, it may actually be the best thing for Ward and the team. For years, Ward has had to carry the workload, and having a goaltender who is capable of splitting time with him should help him be more relaxed in net. The Kings were successful with Quick and Jonathan Bernier last season, as Bernier’s strong performance while Quick struggled early on helped the latter eventually return to form – an approach that could help the Hurricanes this season.