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Kings hope to keep it going against Jets

by Pete Jensen
KINGS (18-14-5) at JETS (17-14-5)


Last 10: Los Angeles 5-4-1; Winnipeg 6-3-1.

Season Series: The Jets face the Kings for the first time since the franchise's relocation to Winnipeg. Thursday's clash at MTS Centre marks the only time the teams will meet this season. 

Big Story: For the first time this season, the Jets occupy a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, and no one will be happier to welcome them back MTS Centre than their fans. The Jets host the Kings after snapping a two-game road losing skid with a 4-1 win against the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday. The Kings, who have won two straight, will travel to Winnipeg after blanking the Chicago Blackhawks, 2-0, on Wednesday at United Center.

Team Scope:

Kings: Los Angeles was able to dictate the pace on Wednesday, as its goaltender was the most responsible for slowing down the mighty Blackhawks' offense. Jonathan Quick earned his League-leading fifth shutout by stopping all 38 shots in the Kings' 2-0 road triumph in the Windy City. Kings coach Darryl Sutter improved to 3-0-1 behind the Los Angeles bench, and did not hesitate to credit his netminder for the team's resurgence.

"He was unbelievable," Sutter said of Quick. "He's done that for us all year. You look at the way he played tonight and he was just a wall in there. He's been solid all year, but he played unbelievable again tonight."

Jets: With Bryan Little and Dustin Byfuglien out of the lineup due to injury on Tuesday in the Mile High City, two of the Jets' brightest young stars came through in a big way. Evander Kane ended a seven-game goalless drought with a pair of goals and Ondrej Pavelec stopped 32 of 33 shots to help the Jets earn a convincing road win over Colorado – who came into the game riding an eight-game win streak at Pepsi Center.

With only one win to show for itself in its previous eight road games, Winnipeg found even more satisfaction in Tuesday's victory.

"Everybody knows we have to play better on the road and we started tonight," Pavelec told "[Colorado] is a pretty strong team at home and it is a good win for us on the road. We came here for two points and we got the two points, so I'm happy."
Who's Hot: Tim Stapleton tallied his third multi-point game of the season on Tuesday and has compiled 3 points (2 goals, 1 assist) in his last three games. … Quick has compiled a 4-0-1 mark in his last five outings.

Injury Report: Little (foot) and Byfuglien (knee) missed Tuesday's game against the Avalanche and are day-to-day for Winnipeg. Derek Meech (lower body) and Randy Jones (upper body) are on IR for the Jets and are expected to miss Thursday's game. … Scott Parse (hip) is expected to miss the remainder of the season, while Simon Gagne (upper body) is listed on IR for the Kings.

Stat Pack: Kane, who scored twice in Tuesday's win at Colorado, registered his fifth multi-goal game of the season – tying him for the League lead in that category with Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Puck Drop: It may only be late December, but the Jets are tied with the Ottawa Senators for the eighth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Fresh off one of its most impressive road wins of the season, Winnipeg hopes to carry over the positive momentum Thursday against the Kings.

"It means a lot to us to finally get above the line," Jets coach Claude Noel told the Winnipeg Sun. "For us, it's good, but our focus will be winning the next game at home, and then we'll go from there. Hopefully we can stay above the line. That's going to be the key for us."

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