Kings hope new year, and home ice, bring a fresh start

Kings could be helped by a home-heavy schedule in January; just two road games

Flipping the page of the calendar and resetting on Jan. 1 can apply even to two-time Stanley Cup champions.

"I agree. There's lot of points during the season," Kings right wing Justin Williams said Friday after practice. "You got the Christmas break. You kind of reset. All-Star break. You kind of reset after that.

"Sometimes you can look and reflect, see how you're playing. See how your team is doing. See where you are and where you need to be."

The view this season has not always pleased Williams. Thursday's rally in which he helped spark a 3-2 comeback victory at Vancouver was one meaningful step forward.

But Williams, one of the team's emotional catalysts, would like to see consistency and a string of victories. The Kings, who have won just five games on the road this season, could be helped by a home-heavy January schedule with only two road games.

Thursday's win moved them one point ahead of the Canucks to occupy second place in the Pacific Division.

"Enough screwing around and time to get ourselves atop the conference again where we belong," Williams said. "Get some breathing room between us and other teams."

Kings Coach Darryl Sutter noted that the short Christmas break helped the likes of rookie forward Tanner Pearson, forward Tyler Toffoli and defensemen Drew Doughty and Jake Muzzin. Doughty played a bit more than 30 minutes against the Canucks and Muzzin logged about 26 minutes.

"It's not easy when guys are playing that many minutes," Sutter said. "It's not the ideal situation obviously. But we're dealing with it pretty well, when you look at it.

"From an individual standpoint, those guys are still producing. From the team standpoint, we're still at the top in terms of goals against. . . . Our goals-for is up in the top third of the league."

The external perception is that the Kings have the experience and poise to get it together when necessary.

"We're a team that when push comes to shove, we're going to answer the bell," Williams said. "We always have. We always will. . . . We need to eventually hit a point where it's go time. We need to find that and we need to bring it every night now."

KINGS VS. NASHVILLE

When: 1 p.m.

On the air: TV: FS West; Radio: 790.

Etc.: The Predators have lost twice in regulation in their last 10 games and have not dropped back-to-back games this season. They have been led by resurgent goalie Pekka Rinne, who leads the league with 24 wins.

Follow Lisa Dillman on Twitter @reallisa

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