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Posted On Wednesday, 02.27.2013 / 2:55 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Kings get chance to exact revenge vs. Red Wings

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- If a loss can be used as a starting point for a team, the Los Angeles Kings can point directly to their Feb. 10 game against the Detroit Red Wings.

Although they gave up the game-winning goal with five seconds remaining, the Kings played their best game to that point and have since won six of seven, allowing seven total goals in that span. They come full circle Wednesday night when Detroit comes to Staples Center.

What changed in that Feb. 10 game? Jarret Stoll said the Kings got back to better puck movement.

“Whether it’s a 5-, 6-, 8-foot pass to score, moving the puck up the ice is really key instead of having the sloppy pass or the sloppy bobbled puck, and then you’re in one in your own zone,” Stoll said. “A team like Detroit – they can sense that, they can feel that. They’re smart at that. We’ve got to make sure we’re sharp moving the puck, supporting each other.”

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Posted On Monday, 02.25.2013 / 3:42 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Kings look to deny Fasth a record-tying win

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The puns have already been run into the ground: Quick vs. Fasth. But it’s an intriguing matchup regardless of playful headlines.

Jonathan Quick is expected to square off against counterpart Viktor Fasth when the Los Angeles Kings host the rival Anaheim Ducks on Monday night at Staples Center.

It will be the Kings' first look at Fasth, who at 8-0-0 is trying to match Ray Emery in 2005 for the longest winning streak to start an NHL career. The Ducks beat the Kings, 7-4, in a wild affair Feb. 2, and Jonas Hiller was in net for Anaheim.

For the Kings, there is some unknown element to Fasth outside of game film.

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Posted On Sunday, 02.24.2013 / 12:51 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Avlanche, Ducks

Here is the projected lineups for a game Sunday between the Colorado Avalanche and Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center:

AVALANCHE

Jamie McGinnMatt Duchene – P.A. Parenteau

Gabriel LandeskogPaul StastnyDavid Jones

Cody McLeodJohn MitchellMilan Hejduk

Aaron PalushajMark OlverChuck Kobasew

Jan HejdaTyson Barrie

Greg ZanonStefan Elliott

Matt Hunwick – Ryan O’Byrne

Jean-Sebastien Giguere

Semyon Varlamov

Giguere is expected to start in the second game of a back-to-back sequence. He is 2-1 against the Ducks since he was traded from Anaheim to Toronto on Jan.31, 2010.

Colorado got captain Landeskog back from a head injury Saturday night but lost, 4-1, to the Los Angeles Kings. It is looking for a better game from its top players as McGinn, Duchene and Parenteau were a combined minus-9.

Stastny has only one goal in his past eight games.

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Posted On Saturday, 02.23.2013 / 12:43 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Avalance, Kings

Here are the projected lineups for a game between the Colorado Avalanche and Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center on Saturday:

AVALANCHE

Jamie McGinnMatt Duchene – P.A. Parenteau

Gabriel LandeskogPaul StastnyDavid Jones

Cody McLeodDavid MitchellMilan Hejduk

Aaron Palushaj – Mark Olver - Chuck Kobasew

Jan HejdaTyson Barrie

Greg ZanonStefan Elliott

Matt Hunwick – Ryan O’Byrne

Semyon Varlamov

Jean-Sebastien Giguere

Scratches: Patrick Bordeleau, Shane O’Brien, Michael Sgarbossa

Injured: Steve Downie (knee), Erik Johnson (head), Ryan Wilson (ankle)

Landeskog is expected to return after he missed 11 games with head and leg injuries, the former from a Jan.26 hit by Brad Stuart of the San Jose Sharks.

Hejduk should also return after he had a torso injury Wednesday.

KINGS

Dustin BrownAnze KopitarJustin Williams

Trevor LewisMike RichardsJeff Carter

Kyle CliffordColin FraserJordan Nolan

Dwight KingJarret StollDustin Penner

Jake MuzzinDrew Doughty

Rob ScuderiSlava Voynov

Keaton EllerbyDavis Drewiske

Jonathan Quick

Jonathan Bernier

Scratches: Simon Gagne, Brad Richardson, Andrew Campbell

Injured: Matt Greene (back), Alec Martinez (upper body), Willie Mitchell (knee)

Martinez has been skating but has not taken contact yet.

Coach Darryl Sutter earlier this week reunited the Brown-Kopitar-Williams line for the first time since last season. Brown responded with a goal Wednesday against the Calgary Flames to end a seven-game goal-less spell.

Sutter also promoted Lewis to the second line recently as Lewis has a goal and two assists in his past two games.

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Posted On Monday, 02.18.2013 / 4:14 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Hiller, not Fasth, likely starting for Ducks vs. Jackets

ANAHEIM, Calif. – The Anaheim Ducks have as good a reason as any to put Viktor Fasth back in goal Monday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The traditional strategy is not to mess with a streak and go with the hot goalie. Fasth is 8-0-0 and one win away from tying Ray Emery for longest winning streak to begin an NHL career.

But Fasth has played twice in the previous three nights and it appears that Jonas Hiller will return to the lineup now that he’s healthy. Hiller was first off the ice at the morning skate and said he’s back from a lower-body muscle strain that forced him out of his last start Feb. 8.

“I’ve been skating full practices for the last few days and I’ve felt good and never gotten worse,” Hiller said. "I definitely feel comfortable where I’m at.”

Coach Bruce Boudreau wouldn’t tip his hand. Hiller served as Fasth’s backup last Saturday even though the club also has Jeff Deslauriers available.

“He’s ready to play – when we decide to play him,” Boudreau said of Hiller.

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Posted On Friday, 02.15.2013 / 4:09 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Bernier likely to start again in Kings' net

Jonathan Bernier reportedly was the first goalie off the ice at the Los Angeles Kings' morning skate Friday, meaning it's likely Bernier will start against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

It would be his first back-to-back starts under coach Darryl Sutter, who talked about the need for better goaltending Thursday.

Jonathan Quick is 1-3-1 in his past five starts and let in some soft goals in his prior start Sunday, including the game-winner in the final seconds against the Detroit Red Wings.

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Posted On Friday, 02.15.2013 / 4:03 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Johnson happy to return to Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES -- Jack Johnson has played his former team twice in Ohio, but Friday marks his first game at Staples Center since he was traded from the Los Angeles Kings to the Columbus Blue Jackets -- close to one year ago, on Feb. 23, 2012.

"It's easy, I know where I'm going," Johnson said.

Johnson wasn't drafted by the Kings but he came up through their organization and was seen, along with Drew Doughty, as a mainstay on the franchise's blue line. He was a fan favorite because of his hard-hitting play and booming shot. Kings fans used to shout an R-rated cheer in his honor.

But Johnson was traded, along with a 2013 first-round draft pick, to the Blue Jackets for Jeff Carter, a move that helped the Kings win the first Stanley Cup in their 45-year history.

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Posted On Friday, 02.15.2013 / 3:40 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Aucoin returning, will play on Jackets' first D pair

LOS ANGELES -- The Columbus Blue Jackets are without defenseman James Wisniewski, but they will gain another big part of their defense Friday.

Adrian Aucoin will return from a lower-body injury that has kept him out since Jan. 29. Coach Todd Richards confirmed that Aucoin will be paired with Jack Johnson when the team hits the ice against the Los Angeles Kings.

Aucoin, 39, typically doesn't log huge minutes, but Richards likes the intangibles and the stability Aucoin supplies.

"It's Adrian's presence -- his presence out on the ice and his presence in the locker room," Richards said. "I think that really helps our group out."

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Posted On Monday, 02.04.2013 / 3:36 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Ducks without Fowler on Monday; Fasth to start

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The Anaheim Ducks will be without defenseman Cam Fowler for at least one game, but the good news was that it might not be a long-term injury.

Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said Monday morning that he didn't get the feeling that Fowler would be out for an extended time after he was driven into the boards from behind by Los Angeles Kings center Jarret Stoll on Saturday night. Fowler left the game with an apparent head injury and did not return.

"There's no sense of that right now," Boudreau said. "We'll see as time goes on as this week prolongs. I know just today that he's not playing today [against the San Jose Sharks]."

Going into Saturday, Fowler led Anaheim with 22:28 minutes of average ice time. His spot will be filled by rookie Sami Vatanen, who made his NHL debut last Friday. Listed at 5-foot-10, Vatanen made a name for himself in the Finnish league as an undersized, risk-reward defenseman, and he was close to a point-per-game player with Norfolk of the American Hockey League this season.

Boudreau said he's OK with the risk factor. He also said that, "I don't anticipate Cam being out for very long," and indicated he wants Vatanen to keep it simple.

"To me, he just wants to play the game that he played last time and nothing more," Boudreau said. "I'm not going to sit there and send pictures of [Patrick] Marleau and [Joe] Thornton to his house all afternoon saying, 'Be prepared for these guys.' He's just got to do what he does best, and we'll do the rest."

Vatanen was put on the first power play unit in his debut and looked comfortable. Part of that poise was honed overseas, where he carried his team from the blue line.

"Of course it helps playing with the big guys there the last three years," Vatanen said. "It helps me get ready for this league. If you come in the juniors to here, it's a little bigger jump than from the pro league there. I think I was ready to come here."

Veteran defenseman Toni Lydman likes the fellow Finn.

"He's got some natural talent and vision for this game that, you know, not many young kids have," Lydman said. "You have to realize he's played in the Finnish league for a while now and has been the best defenseman there the past two years. It shows – he's not out of junior. I think he looked better than most kids that age."

Boyle expected to play: Dan Boyle did not participate in the morning skate, but coach Todd McLellan said it was a precautionary measure. Boyle missed the Jan. 29 game against Anaheim with flu.

"[He's] still fighting the cold and flu bug and that type of stuff, so he doesn't need to be skating in pre-game skates in the morning, and [I] anticipate him playing," McLellan said.

SHARKS

Patrick MarleauJoe ThorntonJoe Pavelski

James SheppardLogan CoutureRyane Clowe

Tommy Wingels - Michal HandzusMartin Havlat

Andrew DesjardinsScott GomezAdam Burish

Brad StuartDan Boyle

Jason DemersMarc-Edouard Vlasic

Douglas MurrayJustin Braun

Thomas Greiss

Antti Niemi

Injured: Brent Burns

Scratched: T.J. Galiardi, Matt Irwin

Greiss is expected to make his second start of the season in the first of a back-to-back situation. San Jose can use Niemi against the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday.

DUCKS

Daniel WinnikRyan GetzlafCorey Perry

Matt BeleskeyBobby RyanTeemu Selanne

Andrew CoglianoSaku KoivuKyle Palmieri

Emerson EtemNick BoninoBrad Staubitz

Sheldon SourayFrancois Beauchemin

Bryan AllenToni Lydman

Luca SbisaSami Vatanen

Viktor Fasth

Jonas Hiller

Injured: Hampus Lindholm

Scratched: Rickard Rakell, Devante Smith-Pelly

Fasth was first off the ice and the move makes sense given he is the hotter goalie at 2-0 with a 1.44 goals-against average. Hiller has allowed at least four goals in three of his past four starts.

Boudreau has liked Bobby Ryan at center the past two games and indicated he will stick with it. Boudreau did shake up his lines in practice, though, notably with Winnik on the top line.

It appears that Brad Staubitz will draw in on the fourth line and make his second appearance this season.

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Posted On Saturday, 02.02.2013 / 3:30 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Friends Kopitar, Ryan to meet as foes

EL SEGUNDO, Calif.Anze Kopitar got to know his friend and rival Bobby Ryan when the two played for Mora IK in Sweden during the work stoppage.

Kopitar actually recruited Ryan through his agent to bring him overseas.

But the two are back on different sides Saturday night when the Los Angeles Kings play at the Anaheim Ducks. Did Kopitar glean any more knowledge on how to play against Ryan after being his linemate?

"You get to know the guy a little better," Kopitar said. "You get to know his strengths and weaknesses at the same time … We all know he's a goal scorer. You got to play [well against] him just like any other guy in the League."

Kopitar said he hung out with Ryan during their off time and it's clear the two have respect for each other. Kopitar has feasted on the Ducks, with 37 points in 36 career games, while Ryan is known to have big games against the Kings. His spin-o-rama goal to complete a hat trick at Staples Center on Jan. 8, 2009 stands out.

Their friendship might get up close and personal now that Ryan is playing center and might take a few faceoffs against Kopitar.

"We'll be facing each other pretty often," Kopitar said.

This is the first meeting of the teams since Los Angeles won the Stanley Cup to match Anaheim's 2007 Cup triumph. Outside of Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau's open dislike of the Kings, both sides have downplayed the dynamic.

"They were the champs a few years ago," Kopitar said. "It will be like any other game. It will be physical. It will be intense. The crowd's going to be into it. We're looking for two points. It doesn't matter how they come."

Penner returns to the lineup: Dustin Penner will return to the lineup as the Kings look to generate scoring from the left wing.

Coach Darryl Sutter confimed to reporters Friday that Penner would return. Penner has not played since Jan. 22. He had no points with a minus-2 rating in the first two games, and conditioning seemed to be part of the issue.

The Kings have reverted to last season and are averaging 1.83 goals a game. Their power play is 2-for-33.

"Our left side has a grand total of two goals this year," Sutter said. "We need more balance right now."

Penner will likely slide into the left wing spot on the second line with Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, a line that was quite effective for the Kings in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Penner practically resurrected his career with 11 points in 20 postseason games.

Dustin BrownAnze KopitarJustin Williams

Dustin PennerMike RichardsJeff Carter

Simon GagneJarret StollTrevor Lewis

Kyle CliffordColin FraserJordan Nolan

Rob ScuderiDrew Doughty

Slava VoynovAlec Martinez

Jake MuzzinDavis Drewiske

Jonathan Quick

Jonathan Bernier

Injured: Matt Greene, Willie Mitchell.

Scratched: Dwight King, Brad Richardson, Andrew Bodnarchuk.

Willie Mitchell has not skated for a week but club officials have said the defenseman has not had a setback from December knee surgery to remove cartilage. Mitchell said last month he wanted to be smart in his recovery and has been working out away from the ice.

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My job was to get that puck and put it on net, and his job was not letting me do it. I got the best of that, but that game's over and to be honest I already forgot about it.

— Canadiens forward Alex Galchenyuk on his late game-tying goal in Montreal's 2-1 OT win
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