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Kings seek to end slump as Penguins come to L.A.

by Sergei J. Feldman

PENGUINS (8-3-3) at KINGS (6-4-2)


Last 10: Pittsburgh 5-3-2; Los Angeles 5-3-2

Season Series: This is the first and only meeting of the regular season between the clubs -- they did play a preseason exhibition in Kansas City, where the Penguins prevailed 3-2 in a shootout. In last season's only meeting, Jordan Staal scored with 19 seconds remaining in overtime to give the Penguins a 2-1 win at Consol Energy Center.

Big Story: Both clubs are coming off disappointing losses and are in the midst of mini losing streaks. The Penguins will hope to fly out of California with a split of their two-game road trip, while the Kings will aim for the same two points before having to play four games in seven nights.

Team Scope:

Penguins : Thursday night's game in San Jose couldn't have started any better for the Penguins -- they scored twice in the first 2:03. It didn't end well, however, as the Eastern Conference leaders let 2-0 and 3-1 leads slip away to the Sharks, who ended up winning 4-3 in a shootout. The Penguins also lost defenseman Ben Lovejoy, who suffered a broken wrist. Still, the Penguins escaped with a point in a hostile environment against a tough team and showed flashes of dominance throughout the game, led by Evgeni Malkin and his two-goal, three-point night. But the bitter taste still lingers in the mouth of goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.

"We all knew that two-goal lead wasn't enough," he said. "There was a lot of hockey to be played. They stuck with it and played hard. They kept coming and coming. It paid off for them."

Kings: Unlike the Penguins, the Kings did not let two two-goal leads slip away in their most recent outing on home ice against a hot Edmonton team. That was because they didn't score a goal in what was a 3-0 win for the Oilers. When the Penguins skate into town, the Kings will be riding a three-game winless streak and scoring -- or lack thereof -- is the culprit. The Kings haven't scored more than two goals in each of their last three games. Moreover, aside from a 5-3 win over Dallas which preceded their current skid, the Kings have not scored more than two goals in six of their past seven games. With a busy schedule coming up against stiff competition, the offense will have to come to life and help the solid goaltending of Jonathan Quick. The talent is there for the Kings, to be sure, but it hasn't translated on the ice, particularly at home, where the Kings have scored just once in their past three games.

As for why, defenseman Jack Johnson had no good reason.

"Why? I really wish I had a good answer for you. I really don't," he said. We've got a lot of great offensive players in here, a lot of talent. We just, for whatever reason, we're an offensively challenged team. One goal in three games, that's pretty tough to win hockey games."

Who's Hot: For the Penguins, it appears Malkin's knee is feeling much better, evidenced not only by his three-point night against the Sharks, but also by his six points in the past three games. … Anze Kopitar and his four points in the past four games have helped, albeit slightly, shoulder the offensive load for the Kings.

Injury Report: Lovejoy is the latest addition to the Penguins' injury list. Captain Sidney Crosby remains out with a concussion, as does Tyler Kennedy, who has started skating again. Defenseman Zbynek Michalek, who has a broken finger, is out until late November. … For the Kings, Colin Fraser is day-to-day with a foot injury.

Stat Pack: The Kings have been involved in shutouts in six of their past eight games, beginning with Quick's three straight shutout wins and most recently in three shutout losses.

Puck Drop: While the injury woes continue for the Penguins, they have been somewhat of a blessing in disguise as the club has learned a great deal about their organizational depth.

"Unfortunately, we've had some significant injuries at this point in time," coach Dan Bylsma said. "We are getting tested, but that's a part of what everybody goes through. You get some injuries and we do have great depth at defense. We have good players that I think can step in and play. We have more players that are good players that can step in and play."

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