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Daily Primer March 13: Kings go for nine in a row

Thursday, 03.13.2014 / 3:00 AM NHL.com

The Los Angeles Kings haven't lost since Feb. 3, a span of eight games. And now they begin a five-game homestand.

Los Angeles will seek its ninth straight victory when it hosts the Toronto Maple Leafs at Staples Center on Thursday (10:30 p.m. ET, TSN, FS-W). A portion of the Kings' recent success can be attributed to the play of center Anze Kopitar, who has four goals and eight assists over the past nine games.

Here's a closer look at all of the action Thursday:

Phoenix Coyotes at Boston Bruins -- Phoenix looks to end a four-game Eastern Conference road trip with a three-game win streak. The Coyotes lost to the Washington Capitals on Saturday before defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers back-to-back on Monday and Tuesday. Boston, which is back home after defeating the Montreal Canadiens 4-1 on Wednesday, is 9-1-2 in its past 12 games and trails the Pittsburgh Penguins by one point in the race for first place in the Eastern Conference. The Bruins trailed Pittsburgh by seven points in the standings on Feb. 1.

Buffalo Sabres at Carolina Hurricanes -- It's the start of a two-game road trip for the Sabres, who have lost three straight games in regulation. Buffalo has scored twice over the three-game skid, with both goals scored by forward Drew Stafford. The Hurricanes have lost six of eight games since returning from the Olympic break. After Thursday, they'll play four of their next five games on the road, where they have lost six of their past seven.

San Jose Sharks at Columbus Blue Jackets -- The Sharks moved closer to the Anaheim Ducks for the top spot in the Pacific Division with a 6-2 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday. What's remarkable about San Jose's recent run is that it's 2-for-54 on the power play during the past 17 games. Columbus has won five of its past six games, is 16-6-1 in the past 23 and 15-4-1 in its past 20 at Nationwide Arena. The Blue Jackets will be without forward Blake Comeau, who was suspended two games by the NHL for boarding Red Wings defenseman Brendan Smith.

Florida Panthers at Tampa Bay Lightning -- It's the fourth and final meeting this season between the Sunshine State rivals. Tampa Bay is 0-3-2 in its past five games, including back-to-back shootout losses at home. The skid has loosened the Lightning's grip on a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs; they lead the Detroit Red Wings and New Jersey Devils by four points. Panthers forward Nick Bjugstad has assists in three straight games and newcomer Brandon Pirri scored his first goal as a Panther in a 3-1 loss to Phoenix on Tuesday.

Edmonton Oilers at St. Louis Blues -- The Oilers have played better of late, earning points in seven of their past 10 games. Goaltender Viktor Fasth made his Edmonton debut Tuesday and settled down after allowing three first-period goals. He made 28 saves to help the Oilers beat the Minnesota Wild 4-3 in a shootout in a game they trailed 3-0. Goaltender Ryan Miller had been perfect in four games with St. Louis prior to a 3-2 overtime loss to the Dallas Stars on Tuesday. Miller made 27 saves, allowing three goals; it was the first time in nine games St. Louis allowed at least three goals.

New York Rangers at Minnesota Wild -- The Rangers have won four of their past six and 10 of 15 against the Wild, who haven't defeated New York since March 3, 2011. With road games against the Wild and Winnipeg Jets on back-to-back nights, Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said Cam Talbot will start in goal Thursday. Talbot is 11-5-0 this season with a 1.75 goals-against average and .938 save percentage. He started against the Wild in December, stopping 24 of 25 shots in a 4-1 win. Talbot will face rookie goalie Darcy Kuemper, who allowed three goals on 26 shots and was beaten by three of four shooters in the shootout in a 4-3 loss to the Oilers on Tuesday.

Toronto Maple Leafs at Los Angeles Kings -- The Maple Leafs are making their first visit to Staples Center since Jan. 10, 2011, which was the last time they beat Los Angeles. Toronto has been outshot 92-44 in the first two games of a three-game California trip and is coming off a 6-2 loss to the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday. The Kings have won eight in a row and begin a five-game homestand; they play eight of their next 11 at Staples Center. Goalie Jonathan Quick has allowed five goals on 113 shots since returning from the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

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