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Kings, Blues aim to keep pace in playoff race

by Brian Compton

BLUES (11-8-2) at KINGS (11-7-2)


Last 10: St. Louis 5-4-1; Los Angeles 8-2-0.

Season series: This is the second of three meetings. The Kings earned a 4-1 victory against the Blues on Feb. 11 at St. Louis.

Big story: Los Angeles pulled even with St. Louis in the extremely tight Western Conference standings with Monday night’s 5-1 win against the Nashville Predators at Staples Center. The Kings and Blues are two of six teams in the West with 24 points.

Team scope:

Blues: St. Louis has experienced difficulty stringing wins together this season, as it has alternated wins and losses for the past four games. In fact, the Blues have only been able to win back-to-back games once this season, when they reeled off three straight wins from Feb. 13-17. They failed to make it two in a row with Sunday’s 4-1 loss at Dallas in the first of a five-game road trip.

"We had too many average performances," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "What can you say? Too many average performances doesn't get it done on the road."

Kings: After seeing their five-game winning streak come to an end Saturday night at Vancouver, the Kings got right back on the horse Monday. After a slow start to the game – Los Angeles had just three shots on goal in the first period – Jeff Carter shifted into another gear later in the night and ended up tallying a natural hat trick, with his second and third goals coming just 19 seconds apart. Carter leads the Kings with 14 goals in 20 games.

“It’s been good,” Carter said. “I feel like everything’s back to normal now. I was out here all lockout hanging out with, probably 10 guys. So it was nice to get out and get settled and relax a little bit. I’m comfortable here now. I feel like I’m in a good position and [on] a great team.”

Who’s hot: Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk has a goal and an assist over the past two games. … Carter has scored in six of the Kings’ past seven contests. He has eight goals over that span.

Injury report: Alexander Steen (upper body) is on injured reserve, while Andy McDonald (knee) and Vladimir Tarasenko (concussion) are day-to-day. … Los Angeles defensemen Willie Mitchell (knee) and Matt Greene (back) are on injured reserve.

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