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Kings' Kopitar hopes to provide offense vs. Canadiens

by Sean Farrell

KINGS (15-9-5) at CANADIENS (18-10-2)


MONTREAL -- Anze Kopitar and the Los Angeles Kings are ready to face the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre on Friday.

Kopitar scored his first goal in 11 games Thursday and Los Angeles ended a two-game losing streak with a 5-3 win at the Ottawa Senators.

Kings coach Darryl Sutter acknowledged Kopitar's lack of offensive production recently is cause for concern.

"Sure it is. (Kopitar's) a point-per-game guy," Sutter said. "He's still our most complete forward in terms of the whole package, but at the same time you want him feeling good about his game and his numbers too, and how he's playing, so I was the happiest guy in Ottawa last night to see (Kopitar) score."

Kopitar has six goals and 13 points in 26 games. He had four assists over the course of his 10-game goal drought, and was held without a point in eight of those games.

Nonetheless, he said he wasn't overly worried about his offensive struggles.

"No, I don't think it concerns me," Kopitar said. "I think we have a lot of guys that can produce on any given night and it's just the way it goes sometimes that nobody's really producing right now, but we're going to make it through."

Sutter expects a tough game from the Canadiens, who defeated the Vancouver Canucks 3-1 on Tuesday in their first home game following the death of legendary Montreal center Jean Beliveau.

"They'll be fresh. They've been off for two or three days and we'll go out and play our game," Sutter said. "They're a fast team, they've got obviously a world-class goalie and defense that can move the puck, so we've got our hands full."

Kings defenseman Drew Doughty won an Olympic gold medal with Canadiens goalie Carey Price at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

"Carey's a great goalie," Doughty said. "Both (Kings goalie Jonathan Quick) and him are, I think, two of the top three, four goalies in the world, no doubt about it, so it's going to be tough to beat Carey tonight. We've got to get bodies in front of him because if he sees pucks he's not going to let any in. He's one of our targets, obviously."

After facing Senators captain Erik Karlsson on Thursday, Doughty will match up against another of the NHL's elite defensemen for a second straight night in Montreal's P.K. Subban.

"I always obviously want to outplay the opposing team's best defenseman. I think [Thursday] I did it for sure, [Friday is] going to be a tough challenge. P.K.'s a good player; I'm going to have to outplay him if we want to win the game."

Here are the projected lineups:


Marian GaborikAnze KopitarJustin Williams

Tanner PearsonJeff CarterTyler Toffoli

Dustin BrownJarret StollTrevor Lewis

Kyle CliffordMike RichardsDwight King

Jake MuzzinDrew Doughty

Robyn RegehrAlec Martinez

Brayden McNabbMatt Greene

Martin Jones

Jonathan Quick

Scratched: Jamie McBain, Jordan Nolan, Slava Voynov

Injured: None


Max PaciorettyAlex GalchenyukBrendan Gallagher

Jiri SekacTomas PlekanecSven Andrighetto

Michael BournivalDavid DesharnaisPA Parenteau

Brandon PrustManny MalhotraDale Weise

Andrei MarkovP.K. Subban

Alexei Emelin - Sergei Gonchar

Nathan BeaulieuTom Gilbert

Carey Price

Dustin Tokarski

Scratched: Eric Tangradi

Injured: Mike Weaver (concussion), Lars Eller (upper body), Bryan Allen (flu)

Status report: Subban missed practice Thursday because of the flu, but is expected to face the Kings. Eller will miss his third straight game and is expected to be out for another two weeks because of an upper-body injury he sustained Dec. 5 in a 4-3 loss at the Chicago Blackhawks.

Who's hot: Muzzin had a career-high three assists Thursday. He scored two goals in the Kings' two wins against the Canadiens last season. Andrighetto has a goal and an assist in his first two NHL games. … Plekanec has a goal and two assists during a three-game point streak. Subban has six points in his past six games.

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