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Kings head to Colorado without Greene

by Deborah Francisco

KINGS (0-1-0) at AVALANCHE (0-1-0)


Season series: This will be the first of three meetings between these Western Conference rivals. Colorado swept the season series in 2011-12.

Big story: Both teams dropped their season openers on Saturday night and are looking to bounce back -- especially the reigning Stanley Cup Champs, who fell 5-2 to the Chicago Blackhawks after raising their banner in the Staples Center.

Team Scope:

Avalanche: Colorado opened the 2012-13 season with a 1-0 lead just 2:07 into the first period thanks to a gritty goal from John Mitchell, a free agent that the Avalanche signed over the summer. Mitchell battled the puck into the back of the net despite taking a hit in the face moments before making the play.

But the Avalanche gave up three goals in the second period after taking five minor penalties and were unable to erase that deficit even with a third-period tally from Cody McLeod. Semyon Varlamov made 31 saves in a 4-2 loss at Minnesota.

“My nose wasn’t feeling too good at that point and my eyes were watery,” Mitchell told “I was kind of ticked off, so I was going in there whacking away. I was fortunate enough to put it in.”

Kings: Allowing three early goals in the first period was probably not the way the Kings hoped to kick off the 2012-13 season, but that’s exactly what happened at the Staples Center on Saturday night. To make matters worse, they’ll be without key defenseman Matt Greene, who is reportedly out for the remainder of the season with a back injury sustained on Saturday night.

The defending Stanley Cup Champions started to fight back with a goal from Rob Scuderi late in the second period but it was too little, too late as they eventually fell 5-2 to the Blackhawks.

"I think most people expected to be a little rusty and I thought both teams were," Scuderi said. "We made more mistakes, but at the end of the day we have to clean up our act."

Who's hot: Varlamov may have allowed four goals on Saturday night, but he also stopped 15 shots in the second period and another 11 shots in the third. … Kings left wing Kyle Clifford notched two assists in Saturday’s loss to the Blackhawks.

Injury report: Avalanche forward Chuck Kobasew missed Saturday’s game with a bad case of the flu and there is no indication of whether or not he will make an appearance on Tuesday … Greene was placed on the IR and the Kings have called up Andrew Bodnarchuk from the American Hockey League in the meantime. Anze Kopitar (knee) and Willie Mitchell (knee) are not expected to play.

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