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Kings, without Kopitar, set to finish trip in Nashville

by Alex Kinkopf / Los Angeles Kings

TRIP TO TENNESSEE: Tonight marks the second of three meetings with the Predators this season and the first of two visits to Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena. Nashville is completing a three-game home stand where they’ve done 1-0-1 thus far; they’re coming off of a 2-0 win over the Boston Bruins on Thursday night. The Kings are playing the final of a seven-game road trip; they’re coming off of a 2-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night.

HEY, AGAIN: Michael Mersch has been recalled from the Ontario Reign and joined the team in Nashville Saturday morning. Mersch, in 15 games with the Kings during his first stint with the club (Dec. 11 – Jan. 11) registered a goal and three assists. In his return to Ontario, Mersch tallied 10 points (7G, 3A) in 15 games, and in total, has 28 points (19G, 9A) in 34 games with the Reign.

LINEUP: The Kings held a morning skate at Bridgestone Arena in anticipation of tonight’s game. Neither Anze Kopitar (day-to-day) or Jordan Nolan (undisclosed) participated and are expected to be out of the lineup. Kevin Gravel remained on the ice for extra work and is a presumed healthy scratch. Michael Mersch joined the team and skated on the right side of Tanner Pearson and Andy Andreoff on the fourth line. Jonathan Quick left the ice first and will start in net.







WITHOUT ANZE: Anze Kopitar will miss his first game of the season tonight and is deemed ‘day-to-day’ after leaving Thursday’s game with a lower-body injury. Since breaking his ankle in March of 2011, Kopitar has played in 406 of the Kings’ 410 regular season / playoff games. “I mean he’s our best player, so it’s a big loss for us,” Dustin Brown said on Friday. “And saying that, it’s a big opportunity for other guys to elevate, and for other guys to step into the lineup and have an impact.”

SEEING PEKKA: The Kings have struggled offensively during the course of their three previous games, scoring just a combined two goals during that span. They’ll see Pekka Rinne tonight, who in 18 career games against the Kings, has posted a 10-6-2 record with a .890 SV% and a 2.87 GAA. Rinne stopped 25 of the 29 shots he faced in the teams’ first meeting this season on October 31.

THE LAST TIME AROUND: In the Kings’ first meeting with the Predators this season on October 31 at STAPLES Center, they defeated Nashville 4-3 in OT. Tyler Toffoli scored two goals, Andy Andreoff one, and Jeff Carter netted the game-winner with 18 seconds left to play in overtime. Jonathan Quick stopped 31 of the 34 shots he faced in the win.

FINISHING STRONG: Tonight marks the end to the Kings’ season-long seven-game road trip, where they’ve posted a 2-3-1 record thus far. With a win tonight, the Kings can finish the trip with a .500 mark. “Obviously it’s been a frustrating trip for us,” Drew Doughty said after the morning skate. “We should have more wins under our belt, but we don’t so that part is frustrating.”

WE’RE DOING IT LIVE: Catch the ‘Kings Live’ pregame show at 4:30 PM PST on Fox Sports West, followed with Nick Nickson and Jim Fox on the live play-by-play call from Bridgestone Arena for puck drop just after 5:00. As always, you can listen to Jon Rosen and Daryl Evans call the action over the radio airwaves on AM 790 KABC.

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