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Los Angeles Kings vs. Colorado Avalanche @NHL
Kings-Avalanche Preview

GAME: Los Angeles Kings (4-2-0) at Colorado Avalanche (2-2-1).

TIME: Wednesday, 9 p.m. EDT.

The Los Angeles Kings began this season without a true No. 1 goaltender. Jason LaBarbera is doing everything he can to prove he is ready to take the job.

LaBarbera looks to continue his impressive play as the Kings try to post their first road win of the season in a matchup with the Colorado Avalanche.

The Kings opened this season with LaBarbera and Mathieu Garon as their goaltenders though the duo had combined for just 48 games of NHL experience.

Through the first two weeks of the season, LaBarbera has been the better of the two, winning all three of his starts while stopping 69 of 73 shots. Garon, who spent parts of the last three seasons as Jose Theodore's backup in Montreal, has surrendered nine goals while losing two of his three appearances.

LaBarbera carried a shutout into the third period and finished with 19 saves in the Kings' 3-1 victory over visiting Columbus on Sunday.

"I just want to get better every day and improve my game," said LaBarbera, playing in just his eighth NHL game. "It's a long, long season. You build your confidence as you go along."

Derek Armstrong and Michael Cammalleri scored power-play goals in the first period for Los Angeles, which won four of five on its homestand.

"It's a good start for us, now we have to keep it going," LaBarbera said.

Armstrong's production has been a pleasant surprise for the Kings. He has points in five straight games and leads the team with six points. Armstrong had a career-high 38 points for Los Angeles in 2002-03.

The Kings hope to have left wing Luc Robitaille in the lineup Wednesday after he missed Sunday's game with a groin injury.

Colorado's No. 1 goaltender is David Aebischer, but he has struggled in the early part of the season. Aebischer has allowed three goals or more in each of his three starts and his 4.05 goals-against average is among the league's worst.

Aebischer got the night off against Chicago on Friday as rookie Peter Budaj made 38 saves in a 3-2 shootout loss.

"He's unhappy with the shootout loss, but we all told him he was the reason we got there," Colorado's John-Michael Liles said of Budaj. "He made a lot of critical saves throughout the game. Not getting to a shootout is something we have to take care of."

Budaj has been very good in his two games, stopping 54 of 58 shots.

Colorado's offense could get a big boost either Wednesday or Friday with the return of right wing Milan Hejduk.

There is an outside chance Hejduk, out since training camp following knee surgery, could return Wednesday, but Friday against Edmonton is more likely. Hejduk has scored 30 goals or more in four of the past five seasons, including a career-high 50 goals in 2002-03.

STANDINGS (through Oct. 16): Kings - 8 points, 1st place (tied), Pacific Division. Avalanche - 5 points, 4th place (tied), 4 PB, Northwest Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Kings - Jeremy Roenick, 3 goals; Armstrong and Lubomir Visnovsky, 5 assists; Armstrong, 6 points; Sean Avery, 15 PIM. Avalanche - Marek Svatos, 5 goals; Liles, 5 assists and 7 points; Ian Laperriere, 19 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Oct. 16): Kings - Power play: 17.5 percent (7 for 40), 11th in NHL. Penalty killing: 89.5 percent (34 for 38), 6th. Avalanche - Power play: 18.4 percent (7 for 38), 9th. Penalty killing: 86.1 percent (31 for 36), 13th.

GOALTENDERS: Kings - LaBarbera (3-0-0, 0 SO, 1.33 GAA); Garon (1-2-0, 2.98). Avalanche - Aebischer (1-2-0, 4.04); Budaj (1-0-1, 1.92).

2003-04 SEASON SERIES: 1-1-2.

LAST MEETING: March 29, 2004; Avalanche, 2-1. At Denver, Teemu Selanne, now with Anaheim, scored with 5:09 left in regulation as Colorado ended a six-game winless streak.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Kings - 0-1-0 on the road; Avalanche - 1-1-1 at home.

Associated Press

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