BLUE JACKETS (21-16-7) AT KINGS (24-14-5)
STAPLES CENTER | LOS ANGELES, CA
10:30 P.M. TONIGHT
TV: FOX SPORTS OHIO (HD) | RADIO: 97.1 FM & BLUEJACKETS.COM
There was little time for the Blue Jackets to celebrate their overtime win over the Anaheim Ducks last night, for the next test on their road to the postseason awaits tonight just a short bus ride up the road.
Whenever the Los Angeles Kings and Blue Jackets get together, chances are it will be a tight-checking one-goal game that is decided in the trenches. Both clubs thrive on winning battles and out-competing the opposition, and they've done their fair share of it in 40-plus games played this season. The Kings started their season slowly and picked it up as they hit the halfway point, now sitting in the fourth seed in the Western Conference: tied in points (53) with the San Jose Sharks but with one more victory than their northern California rivals.
And though they haven't been checking their rear-view mirror for the Blue Jackets all that often, Columbus is coming up on their bumper after a five-game winning streak and three consecutive wins to start a six-game road trip. Heading into tonight's game STAPLES Center, the Blue Jackets are four points behind the Kings with four games to play which adds even more significance to a pivotal match-up in the conference playoff picture.
Coupling the Jackets' win with a Detroit loss in Calgary last night, Columbus holds sole possession of eighth place in the West at the 44-game mark of the regular season. The Red Wings have a game in hand on Columbus and will play their next game at Rogers Arena against the Vancouver Canucks later this week.
Though they admitted having a peek at the standings during last night's game, the Blue Jackets have to devote their full attention to a heavy, strong-skating Los Angeles club that certainly knows how to win this time of year.
Following a 26-save performance in Anaheim, expect Sergei Bobrovsky to be back between the pipes against the Kings.
- With a +2 effort in Anaheim, Blue Jackets rookie defenseman Dalton Prout increased his team-best plus/minus rating to +14 on the season in only 28 games played. Remember when this guy was zipping through downtown Chicago in a cab, hoping to make it before the end of the first period?
- The Calvert-Dubinsky-Atkinson line was a difference-maker yet again on Wednesday night, contributing the tying goal from Calvert in the third period and a tremendous night at center ice from Dubinsky, who won 68 percent of his draws and made a great play to set up Calvert's goal.
- Los Angeles' last outing was a fast-paced, playoff-style game at HP Pavilion in San Jose on Tuesday night - a game the Sharks eventually won in a shootout. It was a high level of hockey, with both teams trading chances and both goaltenders making key saves in the third period and overtime.
- The Kings won the previous two meetings in the season series against the Blue Jackets.
CENTER | #22
2012-13 STATS: 5-8-13, 43 GP
Since Darryl Sutter took over as head coach of the Kings, it's been a fresh start for Lewis, who was resigned to a bottom-six, low-minutes role under previous coach Terry Murray. Lewis has been one of Los Angeles' most consistent forwards and has found some offensive touch this season, chipping in five goals while proving he can play against top forwards of the opposition.
COLUMBUS: Nikita Nikitin (lower body), TBD; Adrian Aucoin (lower body), questionable; Artem Anisimov (upper body), day-to-day
LOS ANGELES: N/A