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Kings begin road trip by facing Predators

by Mike Battaglino

KINGS (25-9-4) at PREDATORS (16-18-4)


Last 10: Los Angeles 8-2-0; Nashville 3-6-1

Season series: This is the final game, with the Los Angeles Kings and Nashville Predators having split the first two, each winning on the road. David Legwand scored with 3:56 to go to give the Predators their win Nov. 2 in L.A.

Big story: Goaltender Martin Jones will look to bounce back from his first NHL loss, 5-2 to the Dallas Stars on Monday. Jones had won his first eight starts in place of Ben Scrivens, who was taking the place of injured Jonathan Quick.

Quick is traveling with the Kings on this four-game road trip and practiced Friday. General manager Dean Lombardi told ESPN that Quick is on schedule to return from his groin injury in the first week of January.

Since Quick last played Nov. 12, Los Angeles is 14-3-3 and has climbed from ninth place in the Western Conference to third.

Team Scope:

Kings: Captain Dustin Brown practiced Friday and is likely to return to the lineup after sitting out Monday with an illness he said caused him to lose 13 pounds in 24 hours.

"Today was tough, but I think today was tough for everyone, just because with three days off, it's hard coming off that," Brown told LA Kings Insider. "I'm hoping to just get a meal in. I'm going to force a meal down tonight, because I need to. Hopefully that'll give me energy, plus sleep. I've been sleeping pretty solid, too, just because I have no energy. I think the food's the most important thing tonight."

Coach Darryl Sutter joked while looking at the bright side.

"That's good if guys lose weight after Christmas. That's not a bad thing," he said.

Predators: Nashville also has spent a long time without its No. 1 goaltender, Pekka Rinne, who has been out since Oct. 22 due to an infection in his hip. The Predators have gone 11-13-3 without him.

Carter Hutton gave up four goals in a 4-1 loss to the Dallas Stars on Friday, and the Predators have allowed 21 goals during a five-game winless streak (0-4-1).

"We've got to score some timely goals. We've got to play good defense and we need everybody [to contribute]," coach Barry Trotz said, according to The Sports Xchange. "Our 5-on-5 and special teams are obviously going to have to be huge, but there isn't any room for error right now."

Who's hot: Jones is 8-1-0 with a 1.31 goals-against average and .953 save percentage. Forward Justin Williams has three points in the past two games. Defenseman Drew Doughty has five in the past seven. Forward Trevor Lewis had an assist Monday, his first point in 29 games. … Predators forward Craig Smith has four goals and an assist in the past four games. Defenseman Ryan Ellis has three assists in his past four games.

Injury report: Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell (upper body) is out but also joined the team on the trip. … The Predators have no injuries other than Rinne.

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