BLUE JACKETS (21-16-7) at KINGS (24-14-5)
TV: FS-O; FS-West
Last 10: Columbus 8-2-0; Los Angeles 5-2-3
Season series: The Los Angeles Kings are going for a sweep of their three-game series against the Columbus Blue Jackets in a meeting between teams that haven't seen each other in more than two months. The Kings won 4-2 on Columbus on Feb. 5 and 2-1 in L.A. 10 days later.
Big story: It's no surprise that the Kings are in the top eight in the Western Conference as the regular season approaches its final week. But few people could have expected the Blue Jackets to be in that group as well. However, Columbus enters the day eighth in the West, two points ahead of the Detroit Red Wings, after a 3-2 overtime road victory against the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday.
Blue Jackets: Columbus is halfway through its six-game road trip and has yet to lose. The Blue Jackets twice overcame one-goal deficits to get into overtime tied at 2-2, then got a goal by defenseman Fedor Tyutin 2:19 into OT to beat the Ducks and get the extra point. Columbus' fifth consecutive victory, combined with Detroit's 3-2 road loss to the Calgary Flames, moved the Blue Jackets ahead of Detroit and into eighth place, though the Red Wings have a game in hand.
"I thought we played a great hockey game," coach Todd Richards said. "I thought we were faster, more tenacious on the puck. I liked our 60-minute effort tonight. We didn't get down after kind of a fluky bad goal. The bench stayed up, and once again we found a way to win. We stuck with it, kept doing the things we were doing all game long to have success and it paid off."
Kings: L.A. had to settle for one point Tuesday night when the San Jose Sharks won 3-2 in a shootout at the Shark Tank. The Kings had 43 shots through 65 minutes but got only two of them past Antti Niemi - and those came after the Sharks already owned a 2-0 lead.
Coach Darryl Sutter said turnovers led to both San Jose goals, and he was particular upset with Dustin Penner, whose giveaway wound up as an unassisted goal by Brent Burns.
"He's going to have to play a lot better," Sutter said of Penner after Wednesday's practice. We're trying to make the playoffs here, and it's similar to last year where we just made a decision later in the year that we were going to play him and basically see what happens, and that's kind of what I'm doing now."
Who's hot: Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky is carrying the Blue Jackets on his back. He's 5-0-0 and has allowed just eight goals in his past five starts. … His counterpart on the Kings, Jonathan Quick, is 2-0-1 in his past three starts and has surrendered only five goals.
Injury report: Columbus is without center Artem Anisimov (concussion) and defenseman Adrian Aucoin (lower body). Defenseman Nikita Nikitin left in the third period against Anaheim with a lower-body injury and didn't return. … As they have all season, the Kings are still playing without defensemen Willie Mitchell (knee) and Matt Greene (back).
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