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KINGS (42-24-5) at AVALANCHE (40-25-7)
Last 10 -- Los Angeles 5-4-1; Colorado 5-4-1
Season series -- This is the third of four meetings between the teams this season, and completes a home-and-home that started Monday in Los Angeles. The Avalanche's T.J. Galiardi scored with 10 seconds left in regulation to force overtime, but the Kings' Drew Doughty scored a game-winning power-play goal with 1:20 left in the extra session to win it for Los Angeles.
Big story -- The Kings have won two in a row to climb past Nashville and into fifth in the Western Conference. Can they keep it going on the road, where their 21 are tied for second-most in the Western Conference?
Meanwhile, the Avs are worried about righting their ship. They're 5-6-1 since the Olympic break and have slipped to seventh in the West.
Kings -- Drew Doughty isn't the kind of player who will openly defy a coach, but that's what he did in overtime Monday against Colorado. And since it worked out for the Kings -- Doughty's 40-foot slap shot got past Avs goalie Craig Anderson and won the game -- coach Terry Murray was OK with it.
"If I actually told you how the play was drawn up on the board, you'd be upset at him shooting the puck," Murray told the Kings' Web site. "But he read the play. That was not the designed play that we talked about, but it was a great read on his part, because their forward took away (Jarret) Stoll. They were looking for him to get the puck back for the one-timer, and he's got a reputation for being able to score from that side. They cheated on it, they stayed in front of Stolly, and that's a good read by Doughty."
The game-winning goal was Doughty's fifth, tops among NHL defensemen, and with 14 goals and 53 points, the second-year blueliner is third among defensemen in both categories.
Avalanche -- Despite the tough loss to the Kings on Monday, Colorado's players and coaching staff are at least happy that they earned a point for getting to overtime. They're now just two points behind the fifth-place Kings, two ahead of eighth-place Detroit -- and, most important, six ahead of ninth-place Calgary.
T.J. Galiardi's goal with just under 10 seconds left came after a nice breakout pass by Peter Mueller to Paul Stastny, who made a sensational move around Rob Scuderi to get a shot on net. Galiardi drove the net and banged in the rebound.
"I'm actually really proud of the way we competed, right up to the final buzzer," Colorado coach Joe Sacco told the Denver Post. "We always talk about playing from the start to the finish, and tonight we played just about to the finish and were able to get that point, which is a big point for us.
Who's hot -- Kings forward Ryan Smyth -- who spent two seasons with the Avalanche before being traded to L.A. over the summer -- snapped a nine-game goal drought with a pair of goals Monday. He now has 23 in 57 career games against Colorado. … Chris Stewart's goal gave the Avalanche forward a point in eight straight games. in 11 games since the Olympic break, he has 9 goals and 18 points.
Injury report -- The Kings are relatively healthy. … The Avs, however, are missing a few key players. Forward Brandon Yip is still a few weeks away from returning from a shoulder injury. Defenseman Ryan Wilson (concussion) and forward Stephane Yelle (leg) missed Monday's game and are questionable for Wednesday. The Avs will also be without forward Darcy Tucker, who was suspended for a game for tripping Kings defenseman Matt Greene on an icing play during Monday's contest.
Stat pack -- The Kings (average age: 26.3) and Avs (26.7) are two of the four youngest teams in the League. L.A. has eight players age 25 under currently on its roster, while the Avalanche have 11.
Puck drop -- With 64 games played this season, Kings goalie Jonathan Quick is on pace to play 74, plus playoffs. That's a lot of work -- but Quick said he isn't worried, and neither is his goalie coach, Bill Ranford.
"We've got guys in the locker room who play 82 games," Quick told the Los Angeles Daily News. "You'll find it inside yourself if you really want to compete with your team."
"You relish that opportunity and get into that mode where you're expecting to be in the net every night," added Ranford. "I think that's the way Quickie's approaching it."