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Kings host Saturday matinee against Bruins

by Brian Hunter
BRUINS (23-16-7) at KINGS (26-18-3)

Last 10: Boston 5-5-0; Los Angeles 4-6-0

Season Series:
First of two meetings this season. Los Angeles will pay a return visit to Boston on Jan. 30. Dustin Brown scored in the final minute of overtime to give the Kings a 3-2 win at the TD Garden in the most recent matchup on March 19, 2009. They rallied from a two-goal deficit on third period goals by Michal Handzus and Drew Doughty. The Bruins received goals from Matt Hunwick and Mark Recchi. Jonathan Quick (24 saves) bested Tim Thomas (35 saves).

Big Story:
This will be the Kings' fifth Saturday afternoon home game this season, and their most recent one showed they may have finally found the right mindset for dealing with the early starts. After going 0-2-1 in the first three against Nashville, Calgary and St. Louis, they edged Washington 2-1 on Jan. 2, with a third-period shorthanded goal by Handzus and 26 saves from Quick making the difference.

Team Scope:

Badly in need of a win, Boston turned to last season's Vezina Trophy winner on Thursday and Thomas delivered. He turned in a 41-save effort and made four more stops in the shootout, including one on the League's leading goal scorer, Patrick Marleau, as the Bruins claimed a 2-1 victory over the Sharks in San Jose. Zdeno Chara netted the only goal of the penalty-shot tiebreaker to help end a three-game losing streak.

"This is an important time for us," Thomas said. "We're down in manpower and when you put in the amount of work we did tonight, to get rewarded with two points is nice. Whether it will help us at the end of the season, we'll find out."

In a similar position to their opponent Saturday, it was Los Angeles ending a three-game skid of its own Thursday behind a stellar outing by its goaltender. Quick turned aside all 22 shots he faced for his first shutout of the season in a 4-0 win over Anaheim. The Kings needed the win in order to remain in the Western Conference's top eight, just ahead of the surging Red Wings.

"It feels great," Quick said. "Most importantly, it's the two points. The way the team played tonight was great. We had a lot of emotion and some hard play. We really needed a win like that to bounce back after that three-game skid. It was just a great game.''

Who's Hot:
Thomas has won six of his last nine starts for Boston, allowing one goal or fewer in five of those victories. … Anze Kopitar, the leading scorer for Los Angeles, has a three-game points streak. Kopitar has two goals and four assists over his last six games.

Injury Report:
The banged-up Bruins, already dealing with life minus top scorer Patrice Bergeron (broken thumb) and playmaker Marc Savard (partially torn MCL), were also without forward David Krejci against the Sharks after he suffered an undisclosed injury against the Ducks. Defensemen Mark Stuart (broken sternum) and Andrew Ference (groin) remain sidelined as well.

Kings defenseman Matt Greene is out indefinitely with a lower-body injury. Defenseman Davis Drewiske (shoulder) and forwards Justin Williams (leg/ankle) and Andrei Lokitonov (shoulder) are all on injured reserve.

Stat Pack:
Los Angeles is one of four teams remaining (Buffalo, Montreal, New Jersey) not to have lost when leading a game after two periods this season.

Puck Drop:
This is Boston's first trip to Los Angeles since a wild 8-6 win back on Oct. 12, 2007. Milan Lucic scored his first NHL goal with 4:41 left in the third and it turned out to be the game-winner. He also got into a dust-up with Raitis Ivanans of the Kings.

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