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game preview

Kings at Penguins preview

Murray to start first game in month for Pittsburgh; Los Angeles aims to avoid fourth straight defeat

by Wes Crosby / Correspondent

KINGS (11-20-2) at PENGUINS (14-11-6)



The Game

Goalie Matt Murray is expected to start and defenseman Kris Letang will be out with a lower-body injury for the Pittsburgh Penguins against the Los Angeles Kings at PPG Paints Arena on Saturday.

Murray has backed up Casey DeSmith the past two games after missing the previous nine with a lower-body injury. Murray last started Nov. 17, when he allowed three goals on 10 shots and was pulled after the first period of a 6-4 loss at the Ottawa Senators.

Letang is day to day; he was injured when he collided with Boston Bruins forward Joakim Nordstrom late in the third period of Pittsburgh's 5-3 win Friday.

The Penguins are 4-1-1 in their past six games.

The Kings look to avoid their fourth straight loss (0-2-1). They are 2-6-1 in their past nine games and have scored two goals or fewer in seven of their past 10.


Players to watch

Kings forward Anze Kopitar has three points (one goal, two assists) in his past eight games after having eight points (one goal, seven assists) in his previous four.

Penguins forward Tanner Pearson will face his former team for the first time since being acquired from the Kings in a trade for forward Carl Hagelin on Nov. 14. He has five points (three goals, two assists) in 15 games with Pittsburgh.


They said it

"[Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin] always pose problems. They're such great individual players." -- Kings coach Willie Desjardins

"We think we have NHL defensemen. ... Regardless of who's in our lineup, we believe we have enough to win." -- Penguins coach Mike Sullivan on potentially replacing Kris Letang


Kings projected lineup

Alex Iafallo -- Anze Kopitar -- Dustin Brown

Brendan Leipsic -- Jeff Carter -- Matt Luff

Nikita Scherbak -- Adrian Kempe -- Tyler Toffoli

Austin Wagner -- Nate Thompson -- Michael Amadio

Oscar Fantenberg -- Drew Doughty

Jake Muzzin -- Paul LaDue

Derek Forbort -- Daniel Brickley

Jonathan Quick

Cal Petersen

Scratched: Jake Muzzin, Kyle Clifford, Sean Walker

Injured: Jonny Brodzinski (upper body), Jack Campbell (lower body), Carl Hagelin (lower body), Ilya Kovalchuk (lower body), Trevor Lewis (lower body), Alec Martinez (upper body), Dion Phaneuf (upper body)


Penguins projected lineup

Tanner Pearson -- Sidney Crosby -- Jake Guentzel

Zach Aston-Reese -- Evgeni Malkin -- Phil Kessel

Riley Sheahan -- Derick Brassard -- Bryan Rust

Derek Grant -- Matt Cullen -- Garrett Wilson

Brian Dumoulin -- Juuso Riikola

Olli Maatta -- Jamie Oleksiak

Marcus Pettersson -- Jack Johnson

Matt Murray

Casey DeSmith

Scratched: Chad Ruhwedel, Jean-Sebastien Dea

Injured: Kris Letang (undisclosed), Patric Hornqvist (upper body), Justin Schultz (left leg fracture), Dominik Simon (lower body)


Status report

Phaneuf, who is week to week, will miss his second straight game. ... Either Riikola or Ruhwedel would enter the lineup if Letang were unable to play.


Stat pack

Kopitar needs two goals to reach 300 in the NHL. ... Guentzel has 12 points (five goals, seven assists) in his past 10 games.

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