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Jackets try to end slide against well-rested Kings

by John Kreiser /

BLUE JACKETS (13-31-6) at KINGS (24-16-10)

TV: FS-Ohio (HD); FS-West (HD)

LAST 10: Columbus 2-7-1; Los Angeles 5-2-3

Season Series: It's the third of four meetings this season. The Jackets won 1-0 in L.A. on Jan. 7, avenging a 2-1 loss to the Kings in Columbus on Dec. 15. The Kings have won seven of the last nine games.

Big Story: The Kings, one of only four teams that had Tuesday off, may be a little rusty after not playing since Jan. 23. A meeting with the reeling Jackets, who were routed 6-0 in San Jose on Tuesday, could be a perfect way to ease back into the playoff race.

Team Scope:

Blue Jackets: The All-Star break didn't provide many answers for the struggling Blue Jackets, who were demolished in San Jose and have dropped five in a row. They were outshot and outplayed, managed the puck poorly and generally did little.

"Clearly we were not good enough tonight," coach Todd Richards said. "Three of the goals were self-inflicted goals -- we had the puck, we had clear possession of it, and a turnover ends up in the back of our net. We made things harder on ourselves by poor puck management and poor decisions."

Kings: Los Angeles has lost just twice in regulation (8-2-6) under new coach Darryl Sutter -- but one of those games should keep the Kings from getting overconfident as they prepare to face the NHL's last-place team. The Jackets killed off all eight Los Angeles power plays in their last visit to Staples Center and left with a 1-0 victory.

Sutter certainly isn't taking the Jackets for granted.

"I (re-)watched the game last night," he told Kings Insider. "The big thing was, we were 0-for-8 on the power play. Thirteen minutes of power play. That's the difference in the game. Five-on-five, we were pretty good. It's like we were telling them after the game, we outshot them 30-something [31] to 18."

Who's Hot: Kings All-Star goaltender Jonathan Quick has allowed just nine goals in his last five starts. Quick leads the NHL with six shutouts. Forward Justin Williams has three goals and six assists during an seven-game points streak.

Injury Report: Columbus is hurting, especially on the blue line where they are missing James Wisniewski (broken foot) and Nikita Nikitin (knee). Center Jeff Carter (separated shoulder) made the trip and should be back soon. Forwards Mark Letestu (hand) and Kristian Huselius (groin) are still out. … The Kings are still missing forward Simon Gagne (concussion).

Stat Pack: Don't expect a lot of third-period offense. The Kings are tied with Winnipeg for last in third-period goals with 32 -- one more than the Blue Jackets. The difference: The Kings have allowed just 33 goals in the third period, while the Jackets have surrendered 65. …This is the Kings' League-high 30th home game; their next six are on the road.

Puck Drop: While his teammates were taking it easy during the break, Quick was in Ottawa for his first All-Star Game. He told Kings Insider that the weekend was hectic -- but a lot of fun as well.

"I really kind of noticed it in the third period. I had already played, and I was just sitting on the bench and had nothing else to do. I was just kind of enjoying it," he said. "There were a lot of good players out there and good plays. It was a lot of fun.''

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