AVALANCHE (16-5-0) at KINGS (15-6-2)
TV: RDS2, ALT, FS-W
Last 10: Colorado 6-4-0, Los Angeles (7-1-2)
Season series: It's the first of three games; the first two are at Staples Center. It's been mostly all-or-nothing between these teams; the Los Angeles Kings won the last two meetings in 2012-13, ending the Colorado Avalanche's five-game winning streak in the series. Before that, the Kings had won five in a row.
Big story: The teams enter Saturday with 32 points each, though the Avalanche have played two fewer games. More important, each is close to first place in its division. The Avalanche are on a two-game roll after manhandling the Chicago Blackhawks 5-1 and beating the Phoenix Coyotes 4-3 in overtime. The Kings are 4-0-1 in their past five games but are coming off a 2-1 overtime loss to the New Jersey Devils on Thursday.
Avalanche: When Colorado scores first, it doesn't lose; it is 14-0-0 when it opens the scoring. The Avalanche did come close Thursday against the Coyotes. Colorado led 2-0 late in the second period but allowed three unanswered goals, giving the Coyotes a 3-2 lead with less than six minutes left. Cody McLeod tied the score with 3:14 remaining and Ryan O'Reilly snagged the extra point with a power-play goal in the final minute of overtime for a 4-3 victory.
"I just tried to get a shot off quick because [Coyotes goalie Mike Smith] doesn't give you much," O'Reilly told NHL.com. "It was a character win for us. We stuck with it. We gave up the lead in the third and McLeod gets a great, grinding goal by getting in the blue ice to tie it up."
Kings: L.A. did everything but fill the net against New Jersey. The Kings owned the first two periods of their game against the Devils, outshooting them 27-5, but a familiar figure stood in the way of every puck. Cory Schneider, formerly of the rival Vancouver Canucks, made 34 saves and held off the Kings long enough for Jaromir Jagr to shovel in the game-winner for a 2-1 overtime loss.
"We had lots of opportunities and didn't bear down on them. And ultimately that was the key to their success," Kings forward Anze Kopitar said. "We spent quite a bit of time in their zone, but just didn't finish."
Coach Darryl Sutter said, "You gotta finish the deal. Tough to score. You have the best goaltending in the League there, we just witnessed it last week," referring to a hard-earned 2-0 win in New Jersey the previous Friday, also against Schneider.
Who's hot: O'Reilly's game-winner in Phoenix was his third goal during a four-game points streak. P.A. Parenteau's two assists on Wednesday extended his point streak to three games. Andre Benoit's three-point night Wednesday, including his first goal of the season, is a season high for him. ... Kings goalie Ben Scrivens, who took over for injured Jonathan Quick, is 4-0-1, including a pair of shutouts and a shutout streak of 191 minutes, 19 seconds, just short of Quick's franchise record of 202:11 set in the Kings' Stanley Cup championship season of 2011-12.
Injury report: Avalanche forward Matt Duchene (oblique), the team's top scorer, has been out since last Saturday and is day-to-day. Defenseman Ryan Wilson (back) went on injured reserve Monday and is expected to be out for the rest of the week. Forward Alex Tanguay (knee) remains on IR as well. … Scrivens will be busy for a few more weeks; Quick (Grade 2 groin strain) is not expected back till late December. Defenseman Matt Greene (upper body) is eligible to come off IR next Wednesday. Forward Jeff Carter (broken foot) is weeks away. No timetable has been set for forward Kyle Clifford (concussion).
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