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Kings go for 8 in a row on the road vs. Penguins

by Jon Lane

KINGS (42-25-6) at PENGUINS (46-21-5)


Last 10: Los Angeles 7-3-0; Pittsburgh 5-4-1

Season series: This is the second and final game between the Los Angeles Kings and Pittsburgh Penguins. Behind Jussi Jokinen's goal and two assists, the Penguins defeated the Kings 4-1 on Jan. 30 at Staples Center.

Big story: The Penguins, who sit comfortably atop the Metropolitan Division and are in second place in the Eastern Conference, can clinch a Stanley Cup Playoff spot with at least one point against the Kings at Consol Energy Center. However, the Kings have won seven straight games on the road, one shy of the franchise record set from Dec. 18, 1974 to Jan. 16, 1975, and are 2-0-0 on their three-game road trip.

Team Scope:

Kings: Los Angeles coach Darryl Sutter held an optional practice Wednesday, though his team is scheduled to play its third road game in four days and is coming off a 5-4 shootout win Tuesday against the Washington Capitals during which it rallied from a 3-1 third-period deficit.

The Kings are likely to finish third in the Pacific Division, which would set up a first-round matchup against the San Jose Sharks or the Anaheim Ducks, but that hasn't changed the mindset around Sutter's team.

"I think there has to be a sense of desperation and urgency, for sure, unless you're a team that's a home seed already," Sutter told LA Kings Insider. "I think there's still going to be a lot of moving around. For a team like ours, we want to stay where we are.

"There's things you have zero control of, but trying to play with composure, meaning make the good play under pressure and know you're going to get hit and all those things, and then when you do that, then everything takes care of itself."

Penguins: Pittsburgh, 6-6-2 since the Olympic break, held a players-only meeting after a 3-2 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes on Tuesday, and subsequently cancelled a scheduled practice Wednesday. Despite the incredible amount of injuries endured by the Penguins, most recently center Evgeni Malkin (sprained foot) for likely the rest of the regular season, the players are refusing to look at it as an excuse.

"I don't think there's anyone feeling sorry for us, but that still doesn't allow us not to have the right type of effort and work ethic," center Sidney Crosby said.

Who's hot: Kings goalie Jonathan Quick has won four straight games and is 10-2-0 since Feb. 6. Forward Dustin Brown has nine points in 12 games since the Olympic break … Jokinen has four points in his past five games for the Penguins. Crosby has seven points (three goals, four assists) in his past five.

Injury report: The Kings have no reported injuries … Penguins center Joe Vitale (upper body) missed the game Tuesday. Forwards Beau Bennett (wrist surgery), Chris Conner (hand surgery) and Pascal Dupuis (right knee surgery), defensemen Kris Letang (illness/stroke) and Paul Martin (broken hand), and goalie Tomas Vokoun (blood clot, hip) are on injured reserve.

Follow Jon Lane on Twitter: @JonLaneNHL

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