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In their return to Ontario, Kings see a rolling Maple Leafs club

by Alex Kinkopf / Los Angeles Kings

KINGS (15-10-5) at MAPLE LEAFS (17-9-3)

2:00PM PT, TV: FOX SPORTS WEST; RADIO: AM 790 KABC

T-DOT: This is the first of two meetings with the Maple Leafs this season; Toronto will pay a visit to STAPLES Center on January 12. The Maple Leafs have been hot during the month of December, winning five of their six games played. Toronto has earned a point in nine of their previous 10 games, going 8-1-1 during that span, picking up 17 of a possible 20 points along the way; they are riding a four-game win streak into today’s game. Today marks the second of a three-game home stand for the Maple Leafs, and the fourth of a five-game road trip for the Kings.

LINE DANCING: Darryl Sutter shuffled lines again during the Kings’ practice Saturday afternoon in Toronto. If Saturday’s line combinations play any role into today’s game against the Maple Leafs, Jeff Carter will skate with Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar on the first line, Richards with Toffoli and Pearson on the second line, with Gaborik and Williams moved back to the third line with Jarret Stoll.

BACK TO BACK TO BACK TO BACK: The Kings, after playing back-to-back games Thursday in Ottawa and Friday in Montreal, will be seeing a Maple Leafs club that is playing its second game in 24 hours today. The Kings split their two-game two-day set, Toronto is looking to sweep theirs; they’re coming off of a 4-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings Saturday night at the Air Canada Centre. Can the Kings respond well today after a day of rest?

OFFENSIVE DEFENSE: Defensemen Drew Doughty and Jake Muzzin have combined for eight points over the previous two games; each player logged a goal and three assists. For Doughty, it was the end to a six-game pointless streak. For Muzzin, it was just continued offensive success; he’s registered 15 points (2G, 13A) in the Kings’ last 17 games. Will the Kings’ blue-line corps aid the Kings’ offensive push again today in Toronto?

GOALIE GUESSES: It is assumed that Jonathan Quick will return to the Kings’ net since he was the first goalie off the ice during Saturday’s practice in Toronto. As for Toronto, Jonathan Bernier played last night, making 27 saves in a 4-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings, so it’s unclear whether or not the Maple Leafs will call on the former King on back-to-back nights. According to Jon Rosen over at LA Kings Insider, James Reimer is dealing with a “tweaked groin”, which may hamper Toronto’s initial plans to play each goaltender this weekend.

COLD CARTER: Jeff Carter, who started off the season hot with 12 points (5G, 7A) in the first eight games of the season, finds himself mired in a minor offensive slump. Carter hasn’t scored a goal in 11 games, and has just two assists to add to that goalless stretch. Carter came up huge in the Kings’ only visit to Air Canada Centre last season, potting the game-winning goal after setting up Drew Doughty for the game’s winning goal in a 3-1 win over the Maple Leafs. Can Carter get back on the scoresheet today?

THE LAST TIME AROUND: In the Kings’ only visit to Air Canada Centre last season, they beat the Maple Leafs 3-1. Drew Doughty, Jeff Carter, and Kyle Clifford scored the goals while Martin Jones chipped in with 38 saves. The Kings haven’t lost a game in regulation time in Toronto since January 29, 2000. Since then, the Kings are 6-0-1 when playing the Maple Leafs on the road.

CARTER IN CANADA:

WE’RE DOING IT LIVE: Catch KINGS LIVE at 1:30PM PT on FOX SPORTS WEST, followed with Bob and Jim on the live play-by-play call from Air Canada Centre for puck drop at 4:30PM PT.

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