BLUE JACKETS (4-7-2) AT KINGS (4-5-2)
STAPLES CENTER | LOS ANGELES, CA
TV: FOX SPORTS OHIO (HD) | RADIO: 97.1 FM & BLUEJACKETS.COM
The past couple of weeks have been inconsistent at best for the Los Angeles Kings, but the defending Stanley Cup champions are showing some signs of getting their game back together.
A commanding 4-1 win in St. Louis on Monday was a much-needed cap on a five-game road trip that didn't generate many positives and included some brutal heartbreak in Detroit, but the Kings have a chance to make up some ground with two games in hand on most of the conference and home games on tap. Los Angeles actually began its recent road trip at Nationwide Arena against the Blue Jackets, and after getting dominated in the opening 20 minutes, the Kings had the better of the play the rest of the way and deservedly got a 4-2 victory.
It was on to Nashville and the results were totally opposite; Pekka Rinne was marvelous for the Predators and blanked the Kings on Thursday night at Bridgestone Arena, but the most frustrating moment of the trip came Sunday afternoon in Detroit. Alec Martinez completed Los Angeles' late third-period rally and tied the game inside the final minute of regulation, and it looked as if the Kings would at least head to St. Louis with some momentum. That all changed with less than five seconds to play, when Jonathan Ericsson fired a slap shot toward Jonathan Quick and it squeaked between his pads and over the goal line to give the Red Wings a 3-2 lead and a thrilling win.
Credit to the Kings, though, because that loss could have been devastating. They picked themselves up and beat the struggling Blues handily, making for a happy flight home to California and a few days off before taking on the Blue Jackets tonight at STAPLES Center.
The Blue Jackets have had a busy week of their own, as well, with the introduction of new general manager Jarmo Kekalainen on Wednesday morning and catching a flight to Los Angeles a few hours later. They're coming off a 6-2 win over the San Jose Sharks on Monday night at Nationwide Arena, a game that could very well be their most complete effort of the young season. Todd Richards wasn't very pleased with his club's consistency across the last meeting with the Kings, which consisted of one good period and two not-so-good periods, so replicating efforts from the Edmonton and San Jose games is likely to be a key focus for Columbus tonight.
- Columbus dropped the gloves twice versus the Sharks (Boll vs. Pelech, Dorsett vs. Burish); they now have 17 fighting majors on the season – tops in the NHL.
- Brandon Dubinsky scored his first goal as a Blue Jacket just 0:43 into the first period on Monday, adding an assist in the third period to record his first multi-point game of the season.
- Mark Letestu has now recorded 3-2-5 in his last five games. He fired four shots on goal during Monday’s victory to maintain his team-best shooting pct. of 25.0%.
- Fedor Tyutin picked up his team-leading ninth assist and 10th point on Dubinsky’s even-strength marker on Monday. He has now tallied 0-5-5 in his last five games played.
RIGHT WING | #14
2013 STATS: 1-4-5, 11 GP
Williams is one of the Kings' veteran scorers and, prior to winning the Cup last year with Los Angeles, earned a Stanley Cup ring in 2006 as a member of the Carolina Hurricanes. The 31-year-old savvy playmaker is a four-time 20-goal scorer in the NHL, and when he's going, the Kings offense sings at a different pitch.
COLUMBUS: Cam Atkinson (lower body, IR); Adrian Aucoin (lower body, IR); John Moore (lower body)
LOS ANGELES: Willie Mitchell (out for season), Matt Greene, Alec Martinez