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Kings' Kopitar expected to play vs. Flames

Los Angeles center sat out one game because of lower-body injury

by Curtis Zupke / Correspondent

FLAMES (26-29-3) at KINGS (34-20-4)

TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, FS-W, SNF, NHL.TV

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Center Anze Kopitar likely will return to the lineup for the Los Angeles Kings when they play the Calgary Flames on Tuesday at Staples Center.

Kopitar took line rushes with left wing Milan Lucic and right wing Dustin Brown at the Kings' practice facility here. It was his second straight day practicing after he missed the Kings' game Saturday against the Nashville Predators because of a lower-body injury. His return would help the Kings get re-organized down the middle against Calgary's top three centers, Sean Monahan, Mikael Backlund and Sam Bennett.  

"We're playing a team that's really good down the middle of the ice," Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. "They're really good young centermen. The difference between Nashville and Calgary I'd say is down the middle of the ice. … Calgary [has] three pretty good young guys and a checking fourth guy. That would be the challenge for [Kopitar] to take the challenge of Monahan, Bennett, Backlund." 

Calgary left wing Micheal Ferland was not in the line rushes at the Flames' skate at Staples Center in Los Angeles, according to Sportsnet. It would be the first time he is scratched since Oct. 25-26. Defenseman Kris Russell reportedly practiced but remains unavailable because of an upper-body injury. 

The Flames reportedly will start Joni Ortio in goal after goalie Jonas Hiller allowed five goals against the Anaheim Ducks last Sunday. It will be Ortio's first NHL start since Oct. 30. He relieved Hiller against Anaheim. 

"We told [Ortio], 'Go hard at practice. Make sure you're showing us you want some starts,'" Calgary coach Bob Hartley told the Calgary Sun. "And he's been awesome." 

Here are the projected lineups: 

Johnny Gaudreau - Sean Monahan - Jiri Hudler  
Joe Colborne - Mikael Backlund - Michael Frolik  
Brandon Bollig - Sam Bennett - Josh Jooris  
Lance Bouma - Matt Stajan - David Jones  

Mark Giordano - TJ Brodie  
Deryk Engelland - Dougie Hamilton  
Tyler Wotherspoon - Jakub Nakladal  

Joni Ortio 
Jonas Hiller 

Injured: Kris Russell (upper body), Karri Ramo (knee), Ladislav Smid (upper body) 
Scratched: Micheal Ferland 
Suspended: Dennis Wideman 

Milan Lucic - Anze Kopitar - Dustin Brown 
Dwight King - Jeff Carter - Tyler Toffoli  
Tanner Pearson - Vincent Lecavalier - Trevor Lewis  
Kyle Clifford - Nick Shore - Andy Andreoff   

Jake Muzzin - Drew Doughty  
Alec Martinez - Luke Schenn  
Brayden McNabb - Jamie McBain  

Jonathan Quick  
Jhonas Enroth  

Injured: Marian Gaborik (knee), Matt Greene (shoulder) 
Scratched: Jordan Nolan, Kevin Gravel  

Status report: Quick was the first Kings goalie off the ice. … Nolan and Gravel stayed out as extras for the Kings. 

Who's hot: Gaudreau has a four-game point streak, and four goals and four assists in six career games against the Kings. … Backlund has goals in three straight games. … Doughty has five assists in his past five games.

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