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Blue Jackets Finish Road Trip in Los Angeles

by Staff Writer / Columbus Blue Jackets

The Blue Jackets, playing the finale of a four-game trip, look to end their struggles at Staples Center when they face the Kings on Saturday night in a matchup of the West's worst teams.

Columbus (28-36-7) fell to 1-2-0 on its trip after a 3-0 loss to San Jose on Friday night.

"When we lose, it's because we don't score, not because we don't play hard," Blue Jackets coach Ken Hitchcock said.

The Blue Jackets have 63 points, tied with Chicago for 12th place in the West. They're just three points ahead of Los Angeles (23-34-14) and four ahead of last-place Phoenix.

Teams usually come away with points against the lowly Kings, and Columbus is 2-1-0 against them this season. The Blue Jackets only loss, though, was in Los Angeles, where they have dropped four straight since a 2-1 victory on March 25, 2003.

Columbus has been outscored 13-6 and is 0-for-21 with the man advantage during its skid against the Kings.

Sergei Fedorov continues to play defense for the Blue Jackets while Bryan Berard and captain Adam Foote are sidelined with injuries. Fedorov, third on the team with 39 points, won the Selke Trophy as the NHL's best defensive forward in 1994 and 1996.

"It's different," Fedorov said. "It's all about timing and the battle around the crease."

Berard has missed five straight games with a back injury, and Foote has missed most of the last seven games with an ankle problem. Their status for Saturday's game is uncertain.

Los Angeles is coming off its NHL-high 14th loss after regulation, losing 4-3 in a shootout to Chicago on Thursday night.

The Kings lost 3-2 in overtime to the Blue Jackets on March 7 in the teams' last matchup.

"We've been in a lot of games and we've gotten some great goaltending that's given a chance to win every night," Los Angeles forward Scott Thornton said. "We've obviously been at the bottom of the playoff race for a long time, but the good thing about our locker room is that the guys have a good attitude."

The Kings have lost six of their last seven - the last four losses over that stretch coming after regulation.

"Three of the last five games we've had a one-goal lead going into the third period and lost the game, so we've got to get that killer instinct," Los Angeles defenseman Aaron Miller said. "There is a difference between being close and winning games, and we have to try and figure that out."

Jamie Lundmark and Brian Willsie scored less than 3 1/2 minutes apart to erase an early two-goal deficit for the Kings on Thursday, and Thornton also had a goal for the Kings. It was Thornton's sixth goal, and first since Dec. 9 in a win over Colorado.


- Associated Press

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