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Kings start trip in Detroit

by Sergei J. Feldman

KINGS (36-25-5) at RED WINGS (39-19-8)

TV -- KCOP-13, FS-Detroit+ (HD)

Last 10 -- Los Angeles 5-3-2; Detroit 5-3-2

Season series -- The two Western Conference foes will put an end to their season series. The Kings have won twice, including one in overtime, to begin the series, but the Wings routed the Kings in Los Angeles on Feb. 28, winning 7-4 after taking a 7-1 lead.

Big story -- After closing out last month with a loss to the Red Wings, the Kings have faltered through the first three games in March and have seen their ranking in the West tumble down to the No. 8 spot. The Red Wings are back home after a disappointing ending to a five-game trip -- they started with two wins but went 0-1-2 in the last three games.

Team scope:

Kings -- Home hasn't been sweet to the Kings recently, as they've gone 3-2-1 on a recent six-game homestand. They'll have a chance for some bonding as they prepare for the opener of a four-game trip following a 3-1 loss to Vancouver on Saturday and a 4-3 OT loss to Dallas on Monday.

"This time of year, you want to get two points," center Anze Kopitar said. "Especially to just hand them out like that, like we did [against the Stars], it's not the way to go obviously, especially with everything being clogged up from fifth to the 10th spot. You just can't afford to lose those types of games."

Red Wings -- The Wings were more than happy to get three days off after ending their road trip with a rough 5-4 shootout loss at Phoenix. Detroit led 4-1 going into the third period, but the Coyotes rallied for three third-period goals and won in a shootout.

"Obviously that last game against Phoenix didn't go the way we wanted it when we have a 4-1 lead," forward Justin Abdelkader told the Wings' website. "We don't want to give the lead up like that, and hopefully we can move forward and be a better team from it."

Who's hot -- The Wings have been led by captain Nicklas Lidstrom, who has collected points in seven of his past eight games, including five straight. … The Kings hope newcomer Dustin Penner can continue to contribute, as he's collected points in two of his three games with the club.

Injury report -- The Kings are as healthy as a team could expect to be at this time of season. … Defenseman Brian Rafalski remains day-to-day with a back injury for Detroit, and forward Patrick Eaves is still out with a lower-body injury. Goalie Chris Osgood is nearing a return from sports hernia surgery.

Stat pack -- Monday's loss to the Stars marked the first time this season the Kings failed to win when leading after two periods. They had been 19-0-0 when taking a lead into the third period. In the past two seasons, the Kings are 48-0-3 when ahead through 40 minutes.

Puck drop -- The Kings are among the League leaders with a 7-2 record in shootout. While the extra points are vital in the standings, the Kings could wind up losing a tiebreaker because they'll have fewer regulation/overtime victories -- the first determining factor if teams are even in points.

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