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Bruins hope to end skid as surging Kings come in

by Brian Hunter
KINGS (31-19-3) at BRUINS (23-21-8)

Last 10: Los Angeles 6-4-0; Boston 1-8-1

Season Series: Second and final meeting of the regular season. Los Angeles won on home ice two Saturdays ago, 4-3 in a shootout. Boston carried a 3-1 lead into the third period, but the Kings forced overtime on goals by Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar. The same two players scored in the penalty-shot tiebreaker for the victory.

Big Story: Los Angeles has won the first three of a five-game road trip, four straight overall and six of its last seven. That run has lifted the Kings into sixth place in the Western Conference. On the flip side, Boston's recent freefall has seen last season's top seed in the Eastern Conference slip all the way to 12th in the current standings. Marc Savard returned Friday night in Buffalo but the Bruins' offensive woes continued in a 2-1 defeat, their sixth straight and ninth in 10 games.

Team Scope:

Kings: Kopitar appears to have regained his touch for Los Angeles. Following a torrid start to the season and a subsequent slump, the team's leading scorer has six goals and 14 points during 12 games in January. That includes the 100th and 101st goals of his four-year career, scored Thursday in a 4-1 win over Columbus.

"It's pretty special," Kopitar said. "You see the guys reaching 300, 400, 500, those big guys, and it's pretty nice. Now I've got it started, a little milestone, and I'm ready to score a couple more now too."

Added teammate Ryan Smyth: "He's an elite player, and for him to grab a hold of 100 goals is awesome. And counting. It's nice to see. Obviously he works hard, not only offensively but defensively, and he's a well-rounded hockey player."

Bruins: This is the start of a four-game homestand for Boston, which will then play its final four games before the Olympic break on the road. Right now the Bruins are struggling to win -- and score goals -- anywhere. They've scored just nine during their current skid. Their last win in Boston came in the Winter Classic on New Year's Day and their last win at TD Garden was on Dec. 30 against Atlanta.

"We need to pick it up and turn this around as quickly as we can," said Milan Lucic, who scored Boston's lone goal Friday off a Savard assist. "We made some strides in the right direction. We just have to keep going and stay positive."

Who's Hot:
In addition to Kopitar, the Kings continue to get production from second-year defenseman Drew Doughty, who has racked up a goal and 13 assists this month. Smyth has three goals in his last four games and six in January. Jarret Stoll has a goal and three assists in his last four games.

Injury Report:
Los Angeles defenseman Jack Johnson injured his arm in the Columbus game and is questionable for Saturday's game. Fellow blueliner Davis Drewiskie's shoulder has healed and he is set to be activated from injured reserve, if not for Saturday's game then likely Sunday in New Jersey. Forwards Justin Williams (leg/ankle) and Andrei Lokitonov (shoulder) remain out.

With Savard back in the lineup, Boston's injury list has been downsized to defenseman Andrew Ference (groin) and forwards Marco Sturm (leg) and Steve Begin (lower body).

Stat Pack:
Along with the Devils and Sabres, the Kings are one of three teams in the League not to have lost a game this season when leading after two periods. The Bruins, by contrast, have a .750 winning percentage when leading after two, which ranks them 26th in the League.
Puck Drop: Tuukka Rask started for Boston on Friday, meaning that it's probable Tim Thomas will get the start Saturday and face future U.S. Olympic teammate Jonathan Quick for the second time this month. They will likely back up Buffalo's Ryan Miller in Vancouver.

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