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At the Rink: Avalanche at Kings

by Curtis Zupke / NHL.com

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Los Angeles Kings captain Dustin Brown recently ended a lengthy goal drought and will try to build off it Saturday against the Colorado Avalanche at Staples Center (10 p.m. ET; TVA Sports, SN, ALT, FS-W).

"There's two types of slumps," said Brown, who went 19 games without a goal. "Slumps where you're not getting a sniff or not getting any looks. This last one I've had, it's kind of ironic that's the one that goes in the net, a sharp-angle shot. I've had point-blank chances that I haven't been able to bury. It's frustrating to go that long without a goal but it's also probably more frustrating to go half that time and not have any chances. It's just about staying with it."

The Kings are two points behind the Winnipeg Jets for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference, but they have played one fewer game. Los Angeles is one point behind the Calgary Flames for third place in the Pacific Division.

It's been an off season statistically for Brown, who has 11 goals, the fewest in his NHL career, and is minus-13. Kings coach Darryl Sutter cracked a joke about his captain when asked about Brown fiddling with different sticks recently.

"If the Easter Bunny comes, he can really have a good three or four games here," Sutter said.

The Kings would like some of the offense from an 8-2 win against the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday to carry over. In addition to Brown, defenseman Drew Doughty ended a 24-game goal drought, and right wing Jordan Nolan a 20-game streak.

Los Angeles has two more home games left and can get to 25 home wins, one shy of the Kings record. It's a big part of their identity and success the past three seasons.

"There's no real answer for it other than we've been a consistent really good team," Sutter said. "How do you win Stanley Cups? How do you go to conference championships? That's how. Again, this year, it's what’s allowed us, with five games left, to still be in a playoff race.

"You have to give our team lots of credit at home this year, because everybody that comes in here now talks about it: 'They're two-time Stanley Cup champions and they're conference finalists.' You've got to give our team a lot of credit for what they've done at home this year. It's not easy games when teams come in here. They know what's going on and they're ready for it, and it's probably affected our road performance too, because teams [go through] the same thing."

Colorado was eliminated from the playoff picture when Winnipeg defeated the Vancouver Canucks 5-4 on Saturday afternoon. The Avalanche staved off elimination with a 4-2 win against the Anaheim Ducks on Friday and entered Saturday one regulation loss or one Winnipeg win from elimination.

Here are the projected lineups:

AVALANCHE

John Mitchell - Matt Duchene - Jarome Iginla

Gabriel Landeskog - Ryan O'Reilly - Alex Tanguay

Cody McLeod - Marc-Andre Cliche - Dennis Everberg

Jordan Caron - Freddie Hamilton - Joey Hishon

Nate Guenin - Tyson Barrie

Jan Hejda - Zach Redmond

Brad Stuart - Nick Holden

Semyon Varlamov

Reto Berra

Scratched: None

Injured: Nathan MacKinnon (foot), Daniel Briere (foot), Jesse Winchester (head), Ryan Wilson (shoulder), Erik Johnson (knee), Jamie McGinn (back), Borna Rendulic (leg), Patrick Bordeleau (knee)

KINGS

Marian Gaborik - Anze Kopitar - Justin Williams

Dwight King - Jeff Carter - Tyler Toffoli

Dustin Brown - Jarret Stoll - Trevor Lewis

Kyle Clifford - Nick Shore - Jordan Nolan

Jake Muzzin - Drew Doughty

Robyn Regehr - Alec Martinez

Brayden McNabb - Matt Greene

Jonathan Quick

Martin Jones

Scratched: Jamie McBain, Andy Andreoff, Mike Richards

Injured: Andrej Sekera (lower body)

Status report: Quick was off the ice first. It will be his 26th appearance in 27 games. … Richards stayed out with the extras and will be scratched for the second straight game. … Varlamov is expected to start for Colorado.

Who's hot: Barrie had two assists Friday and is the fourth Avalanche defensemen to reach 50 points in a season since the franchise moved to Colorado. … Kopitar has 10 points in his past eight games. Gaborik has eight goals and four assists in his past 15 games and Carter has 10 goals and 12 assists in his past 16 games.

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