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Kings start road trip with return visit to Blues

by Mike Battaglino

KINGS (28-14-5) at BLUES (32-8-5)


Last 10: Los Angeles 3-6-1; St. Louis 8-1-1

Season series: The Los Angeles Kings and St. Louis Blues have split two games. The Blues won the most recent, 5-0 at home two weeks ago with 30 saves from Brian Elliott.

"I think every time a team plays us, I think because we have a bigger, physical team, that they try to play the same way, and St. Louis has that team that can play that same way," forward Mike Richards told LA Kings Insider on Wednesday. "They have some big guys, some skilled forwards, and solid defense."

Big story: Los Angeles, which begins a five-game road trip Thursday, solved its goaltending glut Wednesday by trading backup Ben Scrivens to the Edmonton Oilers and recalling Martin Jones from the American Hockey League. Jonathan Quick has played five straight games since returning from a groin injury Jan. 4.

Team Scope:

Kings: Quick is 3-1-1 in his return and is coming off a 28-save, 1-0 win against the Vancouver Canucks on Monday.

Jones was 8-3-0 with a 1.41 goals-against average, .950 save percentage and three shutouts while Quick was sidelined. He was the NHL co-rookie of the month in December.

"Part of that deal was to bring Jones back," assistant general manager Rob Blake told the Kings website Wednesday. "The people here are pretty familiar with his start to the season. He established himself at this NHL level, so it's nice to have him back."

Forward Tyler Toffoli was assigned to Manchester of the AHL on Tuesday.

Blues: St. Louis also is wrestling with some goaltending decisions. Elliott has played in seven of the past nine games but Jaroslav Halak will start his third out of four games Thursday. He has allowed one goal in two games since being pulled after allowing three goals in the first period against the Chicago Blackhawks on Dec. 28.

The Blues have allowed two goals or fewer in the past eight games, with two shutouts (one each by Elliott and Halak). Elliott will play Saturday against the Anaheim Ducks.

"Brian had the shutout [against Los Angeles], Brian has played well, Jaro has played really well, both guys deserve to keep playing so we're going to keep playing both guys," coach Ken Hitchcock told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Wednesday.

"We looked at this week and we looked at next week. With so many hockey games, this is six in 10 nights, and we know each guy is probably going to have to play three games. So we just felt like Jaro played very well, let's keep that one going, and we want to see how Brian looks against Anaheim. It's going to be a significant game for both teams."

The newspaper reports defenseman Jordan Leopold will replace Ian Cole in the lineup, and forward Vladimir Sobotka (illness) will replace Adam Cracknell.

Who's hot: Quick has a 1.39 goals-against average and .942 save percentage since his return. Forward Jeff Carter has 17 points in his past 16 games. Forward Anze Kopitar has a three-game point streak and nine points in the past 11 games. … Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo has nine points during a six-game streak. Forward T.J. Oshie has three two-point games since he was named to the U.S. Olympic team Jan. 1.

Injury report: Kings defenseman Matt Greene (possible concussion) is out. … Blues forward Alexander Steen (concussion) practiced Wednesday but there is no timetable for his return. Defenseman Roman Polak (lower body) returned Tuesday after missing 10 games. Forward Maxim Lapierre (lower body) was placed on injured reserve Tuesday.

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