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Preview: Oilers at Kings

Former Los Angeles forward Milan Lucic back at Staples Center with Edmonton

by Abbey Mastracco / Correspondent

OILERS (9-7-1) at KINGS (7-9-1)

10:30 p.m. ET; SN360, FS-W, NHL.TV

Oilers team scope

Milan Lucic returns to Staples Center to face the Los Angeles Kings for the first time since he signed with the Edmonton Oilers as a free agent on July 1. Lucic was traded to Los Angeles by the Boston Bruins prior to the 2015-16 season and made an instant impact on a team that likes to play a heavy checking game. Lucic is helping the Oilers match up to big, physical Western Conference teams like the Kings. "That's the most important thing; we've gotten a lot bigger with him," forward Jordan Eberle said. "We're tougher to play against. Maybe in the past, it hasn't suited us against specific teams where maybe we couldn't stand up. But I fully expect that we're a lot better team." Coach Todd McLellan said Lucic brings the same elements to Edmonton that he did in Los Angeles; he's a tough wing who likes to use his size but can also generate scoring chances. "He's an important part of our team," McLellan said. "The people in L.A. -- the coaches, fans and players -- know what kind of impact he can have on a nightly basis. For the most part, he's had that for us." After losing four straight games, Lucic said a win in Los Angeles could help Edmonton reverse course. "It's fun to be back," he said. "It was a lot of fun playing here, but when all is said and done, it's important to worry about our team game and getting that win tonight. It's been a bit of a tough stretch here over the last couple games, and hopefully we can turn things around here tonight." Backup goaltender Jonas Gustavsson is expected to make his second start of the season, giving Cam Talbot a night off.

Kings team scope

The Kings will again be without captain Anze Kopitar, their top-line center. Without him, they'll have to rely heavily on their defensemen to shut down Oilers center Connor McDavid. "You've got to be aware of him when he's on the ice," defenseman Alec Martinez said. "He's one of those really special players. He's the heart of their team, so you've got to have an awareness of when he's out there. You take away his time and space and try and limit his opportunities as much as you can." The Kings are prepared to face an Oilers team that has become more physical and will take lessons learned from practicing against Lucic last season. "He makes a lot of plays that skill guys make, maybe with their hands, but he just goes through them instead," Martinez said. "He makes a lot of the same plays but goes about it a different way. He's a big, strong, physical body, and you've got to plan for him."

Oilers projected lineup

Patrick Maroon -- Connor McDavid -- Jordan Eberle

Benoit Pouliot -- Leon Draisaitl -- Jesse Puljujarvi

Milan Lucic -- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins -- Anton Slepyshev

Zack Kassian -- Mark Letestu -- Tyler Pitlick

Oscar Klefbom -- Adam Larsson

Andrej Sekera -- Matthew Benning

Darnell Nurse -- Eric Gryba

Jonas Gustavsson

Cam Talbot

Scratched: Dillon Simpson, Anton Lander

Injured: Drake Caggiula (hip), Iiro Pakarinen (knee), Brandon Davidson (lower body), Mark Fayne (undisclosed), Kris Russell (lower body), Matt Hendricks (lower body)

Kings projected lineup

Tanner Pearson -- Jeff Carter -- Tyler Toffoli

Dustin Brown -- Nic Dowd -- Devin Setoguchi

Dwight King -- Trevor Lewis -- Jordan Nolan

Kyle Clifford -- Nick Shore -- Teddy Purcell

Derek Forbort -- Drew Doughty

Jake Muzzin -- Alec Martinez

Kevin Gravel -- Tom Gilbert

Peter Budaj

Jeff Zatkoff

Scratched: Matt Greene

Injured: Anze Kopitar (upper body), Andy Andreoff (thumb), Brayden McNabb (arm), Marian Gaborik (broken foot), Jonathan Quick (groin)

Status report

Hendricks and Russell practiced with the Oilers on Wednesday and skated after they finished on Thursday. McLellan said they potentially could return Saturday at the Dallas Stars but would need to be evaluated after practice Friday. … Puljujarvi will return to the lineup after sitting as a healthy scratch Tuesday at the Anaheim Ducks. McLellan said Lander's play hasn't been sharp of late and he expects Puljujarvi to be fresh. ... Gustavsson was the first goalie off the ice for Edmonton. McLellan said it's a scheduled day off for Talbot. … Kopitar and Gaborik skated after the Kings were off the ice on Thursday. Sutter said Kopitar is close to returning but still not ready. Andreoff's upper-body injury was revealed Wednesday as a thumb injury that required surgery. He hopes to be cleared by Nov. 23, when the Kings host the New York Islanders.

Who's hot

Maroon has seven points in the past seven games. … Budaj is 7-6-1 but has a 2.13 goals-against average. King has four points in the past six games. Purcell has two assists in the past three games.

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