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Preview: Sabres at Kings

Los Angeles seeks to gain in wild-card race; Hudson Fasching returns for Buffalo

by Forrest Lee / Correspondent

SABRES (28-30-12) at KINGS (33-29-7)

10:30 p.m. ET; FS-W, MSG-B, NHL.TV


Sabres team scope

Forward Hudson Fasching is expected to play his first game for the Buffalo Sabres since sustaining a groin injury Oct. 30. "They're a very structured team, big and strong," he said of the Los Angeles Kings, according to The Buffalo News. "For me coming right back in their face, big strong hockey is what I'm looking to do." Fasching has no points in six games this season. Goalie Robin Lehner likely will start for the Sabres, who are 6-3-1 in their past 10 games at Staples Center, but have lost 2-0 in each of their past three games there. The Sabres defeated the Kings 6-3 at KeyBank Center on Dec. 13 and are seeking their first season series sweep of the Kings since the 2003-04 season. It is the second of a four-game road trip for the Sabres, who lost 4-1 on Tuesday against the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center. Buffalo ranks first in the League in power-play percentage (23.6) entering play Thursday.


Kings team scope

Goalie Jonathan Quick  is expected to start in goal for the Kings, who are four points behind the St. Louis Blues for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference. Quick is 4-1-0 with a 1.41 goals-against average and .933 save percentage in seven career games against the Sabres. "They've got a lot of really good skilled players, some high-end guys that are dangerous," defenseman Derek Forbort said. "Obviously, [Jack] Eichel and [Ryan] O'Reilly, guys like that who can make good plays. We're going to do some video on it and see what we've got to do to match it." The Kings have killed 56 of 60 penalties (93.2 percent) in the past 23 games, which leads the League during that span. Los Angeles is third in the League on the penalty kill (85 percent). Los Angeles will play the final of a seven-game homestand (3-2-1).


Sabres projected lineup

Evander Kane -- Ryan O'Reilly -- Brian Gionta

Matt Moulson -- Jack Eichel -- Sam Reinhart

Marcus Foligno -- Evan Rodrigues -- Hudson Fasching

Nicolas Deslauriers -- Zemgus Girgensons -- Tyler Ennis

Jake McCabe -- Rasmus Ristolainen

Josh Gorges -- Cody Franson

Zach Bogosian -- Taylor Fedun

Robin Lehner

Anders Nilsson

Scratched: Justin Bailey

Injured: Justin Falk (right calf), Kyle Okposo (rib), Dmitry Kulikov (neck), William Carrier (knee), Johan Larsson (wrist)


Kings projected lineup

Jarome Iginla -- Anze Kopitar -- Dustin Brown

Tanner Pearson -- Jeff Carter -- Tyler Toffoli

Adrian Kempe -- Marian Gaborik -- Trevor Lewis

Kyle Clifford -- Nic Dowd -- Andy Andreoff

Derek Forbort -- Drew Doughty

Jake Muzzin -- Paul LaDue

Kevin Gravel -- Alec Martinez

Jonathan Quick

Ben Bishop

Scratched: Brayden McNabb

Injured: Jordan Nolan (undisclosed), Nick Shore (upper body), Matt Greene (undisclosed)


Status report

Fedun was recalled from Rochester of the American Hockey League on Thursday to replace Falk, who sustained a right calf injury against the Sharks and will not play during the rest of the trip. Fedun has seven assists in 25 games this season. … Bailey, who missed practice on Wednesday after being injured blocking a shot against San Jose, participated in the morning skate Thursday and is questionable. … Shore skated for the first time since being injured March 2 against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Nolan, who was injured Feb. 25 against the Anaheim Ducks, skated for the fourth straight day. Each is day to day.


Who's hot

Eichel has 27 points (eight goals, 19 assists) in his past 20 games. … Kane has 11 goals in his past 17 games. … O'Reilly has eight points (three goals, five assists) in his past eight games. … Kopitar has nine points (three goals, six assists) in his past nine games. … Toffoli has four points (two goals, two assists) in his past three games.

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