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Kings-Bruins Preview @NHLdotcom
Kings-Bruins Preview

GAME: Los Angeles Kings (27-16-2) at Boston Bruins (16-20-6).

TIME: Thursday, 7 p.m. EST.

The Boston Bruins traded Joe Thornton in November with plans to reinvent their defensive game. When Thornton returned to TD Banknorth Garden in a San Jose uniform, he delivered a big blow to that very defense.

The Bruins now try to pick up the pieces in their hunt for a playoff spot as they host the Los Angeles Kings.

Thornton, whom the Bruins traded to the Sharks on Nov. 30, had a short-lived homecoming Tuesday, getting ejected less than six minutes into the game after hitting Boston defenseman and close friend Hal Gill from behind.

Gill did not return due to a pinched nerve in his left shoulder, while the Bruins defense was out of sync the entire game in Tuesday's 6-2 defeat to San Jose.

"Maybe (the Sharks) went on more emotion losing (Thornton) and trying to get a win for him. We just didn't play well," Boston's Glen Murray said. "It was a stinker."

Boston, which hasn't won three in a row since trading Thornton, lost control of the game in the second period when it allowed three consecutive power-play goals.

Goalie Andrew Raycroft stopped 21 of 26 shots before being pulled less than four minutes into the second period.

"They beat us in every aspect of the game," Boston coach Mike Sullivan said. "I saw guys do things tonight I've never seen all year."

Defenseman Milan Jurcina had his second consecutive two-goal game for the Bruins, who are 2-2 on their current seven-game homestand.

Boston has three wins and a tie against Los Angeles since a 5-0 defeat Oct. 13, 2000.

The Kings - who had seven regulars out due to injury - dropped to second in the Pacific Division after Monday's 6-2 loss to the Anaheim Mighty Ducks.

The defeat marked the first time the Kings have lost consecutive games since a four-game losing streak from Nov. 28-Dec. 3.

The Kings did outshoot the Ducks 43-27, but goaltender Mathieu Garon had a rare off-night, allowing more than three goals for only the second time in his last 20 starts.

"They didn't take that many shots, but most of them were good shots and good scoring chances," said Garon, who finished with 21 saves. "They've got great offensive players. You don't want to think about a game like this too long, but at the same time, we've got to look at the video and see what went wrong."

Craig Conroy and Lubomir Visnovsky scored for Los Angeles.

STANDINGS: Kings - 56 points, 2nd place, 2 PB, Pacific Division. Bruins - 38 points, 5th place, 23 PB, Northeast Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Kings - Demitra, 20 goals and 50 points; Conroy and Visnovsky, 31 assists; Sean Avery, 142 PIM. Bruins - Sergei Samsonov, 15 goals; Patrice Bergeron, 19 assists and 31 points; Gill, 60 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Kings - Power play: 15.9 percent (49 for 309), 22nd in NHL. Penalty killing: 80.6 percent (224 for 278), 23rd. Bruins - Power play: 16.6 percent (38 for 229), 20th. Penalty killing: 83.4 percent (216 for 259), 11th.

GOALTENDERS: Kings - Garon (19-10-0, 1 SO, 2.71 GAA); Jason LaBarbera (8-6-2, 0, 3.10). Bruins - Raycroft (7-15-2, 0, 3.55); Hannu Toivonen (9-5-4, 1, 2.63).

2003-04 SERIES: Bruins, 1-0.

LAST MEETING: Oct. 18, 2003; 4-3, Bruins. At Los Angeles, Mike Knuble scored with 1:48 to play as the Bruins rallied from a three-goal deficit with three third-period goals, including the game-tying and game-winning goals in a 44-second span. Luc Robitaille scored a pair of power-play goals in the first period for the Kings.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Kings - 12-10-2 on the road; Bruins - 8-8-2 at home.

Associated Press
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