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At the Rink blog

Penner starting to see the goals gravitate his way

Thursday, 03.22.2012 / 3:52 PM

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

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At the Rink blog
Penner starting to see the goals gravitate his way
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- It was a throwaway line by Los Angeles Kings coach Darryl Sutter, but it got Dustin Penner's attention.

After Penner scored for the second straight game Tuesday, Sutter said, "He looked like Mark Messier."

"I heard that," Penner said with a slight smile.

After a rocky start to the season in which Penner endured knee, hand and back injuries and was a healthy scratch as recently as Feb. 22, things have looked up for the former 30-goal scorer.

Penner said he's been getting chances for a while, and now some results are tangible. He had 3 goals in his first 38 games and 4 over his next 18 going into Wednesday's game against St. Louis.

"Inertia's a powerful thing," Penner said. "Hopefully more goals will gravitate towards me."

The goal have come, ironically, after Sutter put Penner in a defensive third-line role playing with Jarret Stoll and Trevor Lewis.

"It's basically Penner's chance to do something or not to play anymore," Sutter said. "That's the way you get in. He's been a healthy scratch to playing on the third line."

Penner said it helps that his line has developed an identity. Whatever offense he brings is a bonus.

"I think we've been playing well as a line for quite a few games now," Penner said. "I think as a third line, we've been really sound defensively. I'm playing with two guys who (have done that) a lot … Stolie, especially, since I've been here. He's got great speed, he's a workhorse. He's great on both sides of the puck. We all bring different elements to the line that have combined for a pretty good third line."

No changes: Sutter has cited identity as a reason for L.A.'s uptick, so it's no surprise there aren't any lineup changes against the League-leading Blues.

Since they acquired Jeff Carter on Feb. 25, the Kings are the highest scoring team in the Western Conference at 3.5 goals per game. League-wide, only Pittsburgh has more with 4.25 per game.

Penner said the improved depth and balance can be traced to the fourth line of Kyle Clifford, Colin Fraser and Jordan Nolan.

"They're playing a lot of minutes in comparison to other team's fourth line and they're playing against other teams' top lines," Penner said. "While they're out there, our top guys are getting a rest. It's maybe a small gain at that time, but it accumulates and that's why you see at the end of the game or end of second beginning of the third, they start taking over."

Elliott against Quick:
Brian Elliott is expected to start for St. Louis after Jaroslav Halak suffered a loss to Anaheim on Wednesday night.

Neither has a track record of success. Elliott is 0-3 with a 3.64 goals-against average lifetime against Los Angeles, while Quick is 2-8-1 with a 2.69 GAA against the Blues.
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Quote of the Day

We want to make sure that whoever makes our team really makes our team by earning it and not putting them in situations where they get preference because of their status as a first-round pick or whatever it might be. That's not going to happen. Everybody has to earn their way on our team.

— Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen on the team's prospects at development camp