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Kings are back home to host Avalanche

by Deborah Francisco

AVALANCHE (7-7-1) at KINGS (7-6-2)


Last 10: Colorado 5-4-1, Los Angeles 5-4-1

Season series: This is the second of three meetings between the Avalanche and the Kings this season. Colorado won 3-1 on Jan. 22 at the Pepsi Center. Gabriel Landeskog and David Jones scored in the third period as the Avalanche won their home opener.

Big story: Landeskog is expected to return to Colorado's lineup on Saturday as the Avalanche look for their third straight win. The Kings return home after sweeping two games in Alberta and will play at Staples Center for just the fifth time this season.

Team Scope:

Avalanche: Colorado opens a three-game California trip with the good news that Landeskog should return to the lineup. The 20-year-old captain missed 11 games due to head and leg injuries sustained on Jan. 26 in a game at San Jose. He practiced on a line with Jones and Paul Stastny on Friday.

"I'm finally back," Landeskog said. "It feels good. [Friday] was the first [full] practice with the guys. Finally I get out of that pumpkin [orange non-contact] jersey. I haven't been out this long in a few years, so I'm extremely excited to get back."

The Avalanche have won two close games already this week, though in completely opposite ways. On Monday they knocked off the Nashville Predators 6-5; two nights later they edged the Blues 1-0 in overtime. Semyon Varlamov made 33 saves to earn his second shutout of the season and Jones scored with 16.4 seconds left in OT.

Kings: The Kings have won four of their last five, including back-to-back 3-1 wins at Edmonton and Calgary this week that capped a stretch in which they played eight of nine games away from home.

"Now that we're a good portion into the season, most of the League has their legs under them and I'm not sure it's as big of a grind as it would be in an 82-game schedule," said defenseman Rob Scuderi, who had a pair of assists on Wednesday night. "I think guys are fresh. Everybody realizes the importance of every single game now and that trumps the tired feeling in your legs."

After all that travel, the Kings will play 13 of their next 16 at Staples Center, where they are 2-1-1 this season.

Who's hot: Varlamov earned his second shutout of the season and the 10th of his career by stopping 33 shots on Wednesday. … Jeff Carter leads the Kings in goal scoring with eight, including one each in the two wins in Alberta.

Injury report: Landeskog flew to California and should play Saturday, but Erik Johnson (head) and Ryan Wilson (leg) remain out indefinitely. … The Kings are still without defensemen Matt Greene (back), Willie Mitchell (knee) and Alex Martinez (upper body).

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