While the Los Angeles Kings have equaled their best start in five seasons, the New York Islanders already find themselves in a familiar spot in the Atlantic Division.
The Kings look for a fourth straight victory when they visit the winless Islanders on Monday afternoon.
After opening with a 6-3 loss to Phoenix on Oct. 3, Los Angeles (3-1-0) has gone undefeated, thanks in part to some improved play in the offensive end.
Ryan Smyth scored for the fourth time with his new team and Jon Quick made 29 saves in a 2-1 win at St. Louis on Saturday as the Kings jumped out to their best start since also going 3-1-0 in 2005-06.
Anze Kopitar added an assist for Los Angeles, which will play for the second time on its season-high six-game road trip. The line of Kopitar, Smyth and Justin Williams has recorded 20 points.
“We’re getting more people with that kind of a mindset this year to get the puck to the net more often,” said coach Terry Murray, whose club posted 79 points last season, its most in the past three. “There was a lot of good foundation work put in last year. A lot of the same people makes it a lot easier to move forward.”
New York (0-0-3) has struggled to move forward after finishing last in the division each of the past three seasons. The Islanders, at the bottom of the Atlantic again, have lost once in overtime and twice in shootouts. Now, they’ll try to snap a three-game losing streak to the Kings.
Kopitar has three goals with six assists this season. He scored in Los Angeles’ 4-3 shootout victory at New York on Feb. 10.
Smyth, who had five goals and 10 assists in 18 games for New York in 2006-07, has three of the Kings’ six power-play goals on 18 chances.
Quick, owner of a 3.50 goals-against average, hopes the Kings will again shine on the penalty kill. Los Angeles killed off all five Blues’ power-play chances after allowing San Jose and Minnesota to go a combined 6 for 8 with the man advantage in its previous two games.
“We put an emphasis on our defensive zone,” said Quick, who made 22 saves to beat the Islanders on Feb. 10. “Our PK did great, which was good to see because we’ve been struggling the past couple of games.”
Though it has not allowed a power-play goal this season, New York couldn’t hold a 3-0 lead in a 4-3 shootout loss against Boston on Saturday to remain winless through its first three for the second time in four seasons.
“Right now it seems like we’re finding ways to lose instead of finding ways to win,” center Josh Bailey said. “Something has to change here.”
Rookie center John Tavares has done his part. The overall No. 1 draft pick this year, Tavares had a goal with an assist Saturday to give him two goals and three assists through three games.
While Dwayne Roloson made 27 saves against the Bruins, Martin Biron could be in net for this game after making 25 saves in a 3-2 overtime loss at Ottawa on Thursday.
Biron is 4-0-0 with a 2.04 GAA against Los Angeles.