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Kings represent latest West foe for Lightning

by Davis Harper

LIGHTNING (14-6-0) at KINGS (14-6-1)


Last 10: Tampa Bay 7-3-0; Los Angeles 7-2-1

Season series: This is the second and final meeting this season. In the first meeting on Oct. 15 at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, Martin St. Louis scored twice as the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Los Angeles Kings, 5-1.

Big story: Both Los Angeles and Tampa Bay lost a franchise face this past week, but after three games neither team seems all that worse for the wear thus far.

The Kings are back in L.A. after going 3-0-1 on a recent swing through the New York area, winning the final three games despite a groin injury to goalie Jonathan Quick in the opener against the Buffalo Sabres.

The Eastern Conference-leading Lightning have won six of eight, including two of three since star forward Steven Stamkos was sidelined with a broken tibia a week ago. However, the Lightning will look to rebound after a 6-3 loss Saturday in Phoenix as they continue a four-game Western trip. Ben Bishop will start in goal against the Kings.

Team scope:

Lightning: The loss of Stamkos on Nov. 11 against the Boston Bruins seemed to barely phase the Lightning, who reeled off two straight wins after the injury to remain atop the Eastern Conference. The second, a 5-1 domination of the NHL-leading Anaheim Ducks this past Thursday, improved their record against the Western Conference to 7-0-0.

The first blemish to that record came Saturday night in Phoenix. Facing an already steep hill against a Coyotes team that is 9-0-1 at home, the situation escalated when Phoenix jumped out to a 3-0 lead. Bishop gave up three goals on 14 shots before being pulled, ending his streak of eight straight starts without conceding more than two goals.

"It's tough. You go down 3-0 and now you're climbing the mountain," coach Jon Cooper said. "[Smith] made the save he had to and every time we thought we were seizing a little bit of momentum we'd give one up."

J.T. Brown, who received a call-up from Syracuse of the American Hockey League after the injury to Stamkos, scored his first NHL goal in the loss.

Kings: With the injury to Quick, the Kings survived the remainder of the road trip with some stingy goaltending from backup Ben Scrivens, who arrived in the summer in a goalie swap with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He held the New York Islanders to two goals and posted consecutive shutouts against the New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers. Scrivens owns an NHL-best three shutouts despite making only five starts.

In the finale of the road swing Sunday, the Kings held on against the Rangers for a 1-0 victory. Scrivens made 37 saves. Tyler Toffoli's fourth goal in seven games held up as the winner.

"That's why we got him here," forward Anze Kopitar said of Toffoli. "If he keeps doing that, he's going to stay here for a while. He's not going to leave this locker room."

Who's hot: Tampa Bay's St. Louis has a goal and three assists over his past two games. St. Louis also has 14 points (six goals, eight assists) in 14 career games against Los Angeles.

Injury report: For Tampa Bay, defenseman Mark Barberio (upper body) is also questionable. Center Tom Pyatt (collarbone) and defensemen Brian Lee (knee), Keith Aulie (upper body) and Mattias Ohlund (knee) are out indefinitely. … Quick is out indefinitely for the Kings, who are also without wing Kyle Clifford (concussion), defenseman Matt Greene (upper body) and center Jeff Carter (lower body).

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