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Kings return home to face Avalanche

by John Kreiser /

AVALANCHE (13-22-5) at KINGS (22-14-4)


Last 10: Colorado 2-7-1; Los Angeles 5-3-2

Season series: It's the last of three meetings this season. The Colorado Avalanche won 3-1 in Denver on Jan. 22 before the Los Angeles Kings took home a 4-1 victory on Feb. 23.

Big story: The Kings are fourth in the Western Conference standings but are only one point ahead of the San Jose Sharks and have played one more game. They can't afford a second loss this season to the last-place Avalanche, who are going for a sweep of two games in Southern California after beating the Anaheim Ducks 4-1 on Wednesday.

Team Scope:

Avalanche: Two nights after calling out his teammates for their poor showing against the Calgary Flames, goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere benefitted from perhaps his team's best 60-minute effort of the season. While Giguere wouldn't concede that his tough words had any effect, Colorado dominated for most of the night against the Ducks to earn their third road win in 21 games.

"I thought our whole team played well," coach Joe Sacco said. "I think any time you can give a team like Anaheim 22 shots on goal -- and I'm not sure how many chances they had; not as many chances as we've been giving up lately -- says a lot for the guys."

When the Ducks did get chances, Giguere was there to deny his former team.

"When we needed big saves, he came up with them," Sacco said.

Kings: Los Angeles is in good shape to earn the chance to defend its Stanley Cup title. But after a 4-3 overtime loss to the Anaheim Ducks and a 5-1 loss to the Dallas Stars, the Kings come home in need of a victory to keep their spot in the top eight safe.

"I think our top guys struggled the whole game," coach Darryl Sutter said Wednesday of his team's performance in Dallas, in which the Stars scored four unanswered goals in the third period. "The top two lines both had a real rough night, quite honest. So they didn't really 'fall off'. They had a rough night, and whether it was schedule, travel, fatigue, you know what? We're past that in a hurry."

Who's hot: Kings scoring leader Anze Kopitar has a four-game assist streak. Jeff Carter leads the Kings with 23 goals and had a three-game goal-scoring streak ended in Dallas. … PA Parenteau had a pair of assists in Anaheim and leads the team with 39 points in 40 games.

Injury report: Colorado goaltender Semyon Varlamov (hip) didn't make the trip to California. The Avalanche are also without forwards Milan Hejduk (shoulder) and Steve Downie (season-ending knee surgery) as well as defenseman Ryan Wilson (ankle). … The Kings are still without defensemen Willie Mitchell (knee) and Matt Greene (back), though Greene is just about ready to start skating.

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