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Kings will have Kopitar in lineup against Blue Jackets

by Curtis Zupke / NHL.com

BLUE JACKETS (3-10-0) at KINGS (8-4-0)

TV: FS-O, FS-W

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar said he will play Thursday when the Kings host the Columbus Blue Jackets at Staples Center.

Kopitar was hit in the face by the butt end of the stick of St. Louis Blues forward Ryan Reaves on Tuesday. Kopitar left the game bleeding in the mouth and there was concern because it was a hit to the head, but he reported no substantial effects after he took part in the morning skate.

"(It's) obviously not the best feeling," Kopitar said. "I'm lucky that it hasn't happened to me before. Maybe that's why (there's) a little bigger concern, because you don't know what you're dealing with. But I went through all the protocol, as you call it. I feel good and the tests are good. I'm good to go for tonight."

Reaves was fined by the NHL Department of Player Safety for roughing on the play. He had his body turned away from Kopitar when it happened, and Kopitar said, "I'd like to think he didn't do it on purpose. But it is what it is now, and the bottom line is that I'm feeling good now, and that's obviously the best thing for me."

The Kings have won eight of nine after losing three straight to start the season. The line of left wing Milan Lucic, center Jeff Carter and right wing Tyler Toffoli has combined for 16 of their 29 goals. Kopitar has the unusual statistical line of four goals and no assists.

"It hasn't happened too often where I have more penalty minutes (six) than assists," he said. "I'll try to correct that as soon as I can."

Kings coach Darryl Sutter was puzzled by Kopitar's lack of production and called out the line of Kopitar, left wing Marian Gaborik and right wing Dustin Brown.

"He should still get 40-50 assists and he needs his wingers to start scoring," Sutter said of Kopitar. "Whoever we've put there have not produced there."

Sutter criticized Brown, who has three assists and 10 penalty minutes in 12 games.

"We've put him in power-play situations, we've put him in penalty-killing situations to regain his 200-foot game," Sutter said. "We've shown a lot of confidence in him. Now he has to produce. We're counting on him to have a really good regular season based on last year."

Columbus defenseman Dalton Prout is expected to play because his size is needed against the Kings, according to the Columbus Post-Dispatch. Center Alexander Wennberg is expected to be in the lineup with Rene Bourque scratched, according to the Blue Jackets website.

The Blue Jackets are 3-3-0 under coach John Tortorella. The Kings have won five straight at home against Columbus.

Here are the projected lineups:

BLUE JACKETS

Boone JennerBrandon DubinskyBrandon Saad

Matt CalvertRyan JohansenCam Atkinson

Scott HartnellWilliam KarlssonMike Foligno

Gregory Campbell - Alexander WennbergJared Boll

Jack JohnsonDavid Savard

Ryan MurrayFedor Tyutin

Kevin ConnautonDalton Prout

Sergei Bobrovsky

Curtis McElhinney

Injured: David Clarkson (back)

Scratched: Rene Bourque, Kerby Rychel, Cody Goloubef

KINGS

Marian GaborikAnze KopitarDustin Brown

Milan LucicJeff CarterTyler Toffoli

Tanner Pearson - Nick Shore - Trevor Lewis

Kyle CliffordAndy AndreoffJordan Nolan

Brayden McNabbDrew Doughty

Jake Muzzin - Alec Martinez

Christian EhrhoffJamie McBain

Jonathan Quick

Jhonas Enroth

Injured: Matt Greene (upper body), Dwight King (foot)

Scratched: Derek Forbort, Jordan Weal

Status report: Bobrovsky is expected to start, according to the Blue Jackets website. … Enroth, who had a shutout Tuesday, was off the ice first but said he wasn't playing.

Who's hot: Hartnell has three goals in his past four games. Jenner has four goals in five games. Dubinsky has points in five of his past six games. … Carter has five goals and five assists in his past seven games. Toffoli has eight goals and two assists in his past nine games.

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