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Kings with chance to regain Pacific lead

Los Angeles win vs. Calgary and loss by Anaheim would move them back into first

by Aaron Vickers / Correspondent

KINGS (46-28-5) at FLAMES (33-40-6)

TV: 9 p.m. ET; KCOP-13, SNW, NHL-TV

CALGARY -- The struggling Los Angeles Kings have clinched a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but there's still plenty for them to play for when they visit the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome on Tuesday.

The Kings, who have lost two straight and three of their past four (1-3-0) trail the Anaheim Ducks by one point for first place in the Pacific Division with three games left in the regular season. But a Kings win and a loss in regulation by the Ducks against the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday would put the Kings back into first place.

But instead of a division title, Los Angeles is more concerned with finding its stride.

"That's something that you strive for as a goal once you start the season, is to try to win the division," forward Milan Lucic said. "But if you look at our play in the last eight games I think there's something more important on the line and that's getting our game back the way it was before we clinched that playoff spot.

"It seems like our game has slipped a little bit. We let the foot off the gas pedal ever since we did clinch that playoff spot. We have to find that spark again and play with some excitement and play with some positive energy and go out and play with that fire and intensity that makes us a good team. There's a lot to play for with three games left."

The Kings are 2-6-0 in the past eight games and have been outscored 26-19. Their most recent win came March 31, a 3-0 defeat of the Flames. The Kings are 25 points ahead of the Flames in the standings but don't plan on taking the Flames lightly.

"Sometimes this time of year these type of teams are harder to play against," Lucic said. "They're playing loose, making plays and all that type of stuff. You never want to underestimate your opponent. You never want to take them for granted. They were a playoff team last year for a reason. There's still some real good players with that team. Right now going into tonight I think we just have to worry about our own game and ourselves and getting going in the right direction again."

The Flames, who beat the Edmonton Oilers 5-0 on Saturday to finish a four-game road trip, are more focused on using the Kings as a late-season measuring stick rather than playing spoiler.

"The spoiler role is overrated I guess," Flames forward Joe Colborne said. "It's more a great opportunity for us to test ourselves out and go up against a top playoff team that's trying to get ready for the playoffs. We've only got three games left. It's the last chance for some of us to go out and show everyone what we have."

Here are the projected lineups:


Tanner Pearson - Anze Kopitar - Kris Versteeg

Milan Lucic - Jeff Carter - Tyler Toffoli

Dwight King - Vincent Lecavalier - Dustin Brown

Kyle Clifford - Trevor Lewis - Andy Andreoff

Brayden McNabb - Drew Doughty

Jake Muzzin - Luke Schenn

Rob Scuderi - Jamie McBain

Jhonas Enroth

Jonathan Quick

Injured: Alec Martinez (undisclosed), Matt Greene (shoulder), Marian Gaborik (knee), Jordan Nolan (undisclosed)

Scratched: Nick Shore, Nic Dowd, Kevin Gravel


Hunter Shinkaruk - Sean Monahan - Johnny Gaudreau

Lance Bouma - Mikael Backlund - Joe Colborne

Micheal Ferland - Sam Bennett - Josh Jooris

Brandon Bollig - Matt Stajan - Derek Grant

Mark Giordano - Deryk Engelland

TJ Brodie - Dougie Hamilton

Jyrki Jokipakka - Jakub Nakladal

Joni Ortio

Jonas Hiller

Injured: Karri Ramo (torn ACL), Ladislav Smid (upper body), Dennis Wideman (triceps), Michael Frolik (lower body)

Scratched: Niklas Backstrom

Status report: The Kings and Flames held optional skates Tuesday morning. … Kings coach Darryl Sutter did not have an update on Martinez, who is day-to-day. … Enroth is expected to start after Quick played in a 3-2 loss at the Vancouver Canucks on Monday. … Frolik will miss his fourth straight game.

Who's hot: Carter has five goals and nine points in his past six games. … Gaudreau has three goals and four points in his past four games. … Monahan has five assists and six points in his past four games.

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