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Kings-Blue Jackets Preview @NHL
Kings-Blue Jackets Preview

GAME: Los Angeles Kings (11-5-1) at Columbus Blue Jackets (5-12-0).

TIME: Sunday, 5 p.m. EST.

The Los Angeles Kings look to continue their dominant special teams play when they meet the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena.

Los Angeles has turned away 21 straight power-play chances by opponents and has not allowed a power-play goal in three games. The last time the Kings allowed a man-advantage goal was midway through the second period of a 4-0 loss Nov. 3 to the Phoenix Coyotes.

On Friday, the Kings were 6-for-6 in short-handed situations and beat the Chicago Blackhawks 4-2.

"Our penalty killing came up very big for us when we needed it in the second period," Los Angeles coach Andy Murray said. "It's common knowledge that your best penalty killer is your goalie. He was really there for us when we needed him."

Veteran center Craig Conroy continued his hot play in the win, scoring in his third straight game. He has seven goals in 17 games this season, one fewer than he had in 63 games in 2003-04 with the Calgary Flames.

Conroy has four goals and nine assists in 18 games against Columbus.

The Blue Jackets, meanwhile, have dropped five of six, including a 3-1 loss Friday to the Edmonton Oilers.

"We were the better team tonight," Blue Jackets coach Gerard Gallant said. "We should have won the hockey game but we didn't. The guys played their tails off. I can't go in there (the dressing room) and tell them they didn't play well. They know they played well."

The Blue Jackets were 0-for-5 on the power play, failing to convert on four first-period chances.

With star Rick Nash still sidelined by a knee injury, Columbus is still looking for someone to pick up the scoring slack. The Blue Jackets are averaging a league-low 1.88 goals per game have not scored more than three goals in a game in their last 11 contests.

STANDINGS (through Nov. 12): Kings - 23 points, 1st place, Pacific Division. Blue Jackets - 10 points, 4th place, 21 PB, Central Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Kings - Pavol Demitra and Alexander Frolov, 8 goals; Lubomir Visnovsky, 14 assists and 20 points; Sean Avery, 55 PIM. Blue Jackets - David Vyborny, 6 goals; Manny Malhotra, 10 assists; Bryan Berard, 12 points; Jody Shelley, 40 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Nov. 12): Kings - Power play: 15.7 percent (17 for 108), 22nd in NHL. Penalty killing: 86.1 percent (93 for 108), 5th. Blue Jackets - Power play: 9.6 percent (10 for 104), 30th. Penalty killing: 84.1 percent (101 for 120), 11th.

GOALTENDERS: Kings - Jason LaBarbera (8-2-1, 0 SO, 2.44 GAA); Mathieu Garon (3-3-0, 0, 3.06). Blue Jackets - Marc Denis (3-9-0, 0, 3.31); Martin Prusek (2-1-0, 0, 2.10).

SEASON SERIES: Kings, 1-0.

LAST MEETING: Oct. 16; Kings, 3-1. Derek Armstrong and Mike Cammalleri scored power-play goals in the first period. LaBarbera came within 11 minutes of earning his first NHL shutout before Nikolai Zherdev scored his first goal of the season.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Kings - 4-2 on the road; Blue Jackets - 4-4 at home.

Associated Press
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