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Ducks host Kings in prelude to Stadium Series

by Dan Rosen

KINGS (29-16-6) at DUCKS (37-10-5)


Last 10: Los Angeles 4-4-2; Anaheim 8-2-0

Season series: This is the second of five games between the SoCal rivals and the first of two in a span of three days. The Ducks and Kings will take their rivalry outside on Saturday in the first edition of the 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series when they play at Dodger Stadium (9:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC). The Kings won the first meeting of the season, 3-2 in a shootout, on Dec. 3.

Big story: There are so many storylines going into this one. For starters, there is the fact the Kings and Ducks are two of the best teams in the Western Conference, even though Anaheim's recent 18-1-0 run pushed it way up the Pacific Division standings, so much so that it now has a nine-point lead over the second place San Jose Sharks and a 15-point lead over the Kings. Secondly, this is the preview to the highly anticipated event that will take place Saturday night at Dodger Stadium, when the NHL puts on its first regular-season outdoor game in a warm-weather climate.

Team Scope:

Kings: It's been a struggle lately for the Kings, who've dropped three in a row, including the past two in regulation. They have won only four of their past 14 games (4-8-2) and are finishing off a five-game road trip at Honda Center. The game at Dodger Stadium is considered a home game for the Kings. They're coming into the game off a 5-3 loss at the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday.

"We're doing what bad teams are doing," forward Justin Williams said following the loss to Columbus. "We're allowing special-teams goals. We're allowing breakdown goals. When teams score goals against us, they need to earn them and earn them heavily. We haven't done that lately."

Expect Jonathan Quick to be back in net Thursday. Martin Jones, making his first start since being recalled after the Kings traded Ben Scrivens last week, made 29 saves on 34 shots in the loss at Columbus.

Ducks: The Ducks are slumping … if you consider a slump losing two out of three games after a team won 18 of its previous 19 games.

Anaheim's 3-2 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday was its first regulation loss at home this season. The Ducks are now 20-1-2 at Honda Center.

They also lost to the Chicago Blackhawks last Friday, but rebounded with a 3-2 win against the St. Louis Blues the next night.

"There are a lot of distractions going on this week with the outdoor game," captain Ryan Getzlaf said following the game Tuesday. "Everyone wants to talk about it, and they have been talking about it for the last two weeks. It's hard to focus in on what you need to do and on the points at end. That's an excuse, and it's nothing that our group hasn't been a part of before or will be part of again. When there are distractions, we've got to learn to play through them."

Who's hot: Kings forward Jeff Carter has a goal in four straight games and leads the team with 20 this season. … Getzlaf brings an eight-game point-streak into the game Thursday. He has five goals and seven assists during the streak.

Injury report: Kings defenseman Matt Greene (concussion) is out indefinitely. … Ducks defenseman Luca Sbisa (wrist) and goalie Viktor Fasth (lower body) are out. Defenseman Sheldon Souray is out for the season after undergoing wrist surgery.

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