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Red-hot Kings return home to face struggling Blues

by John Kreiser
BLUES (31-30-9) at KINGS (40-25-5)

TV -- FS-Midwest (HD); FS-West (HD)

Last 10 -- St. Louis 4-6-0; Los Angeles 7-2-1

Season series -- The Blues are going for a sweep of the four-game season series, though the teams haven't seen each other since St. Louis won 2-1 at the Scottrade Center on Jan. 18.

Big story -- The Kings are back home after one of the best road trips in franchise history -- a 4-0-0 swing through Detroit, Columbus, Dallas and Nashville that moved them to fourth place in the West, Now they have to remember how to win at home -- they're just 12-11-5 after going 8-0 to start the season. The Blues are all but officially out of the race and coming off a 2-1 loss at Anaheim on Wednesday.

Team Scope:

Blues -- Wednesday's game at Anaheim was just another frustrating night for St. Louis, which got a power-play goal by defenseman Nathan Oystrick midway through the second period to jump in front, but couldn't get another puck past Ray Emery -- who was playing his first game in more than a year after major hip surgery.

"We had our chances, and we just needed to find a way to finish, or find a way to grab one when the goalie was out of position," coach Davis Payne said.

Kings -- There were smiles all around as the Kings headed back home after completing their perfect road trip with a 4-2 win at Nashville on Tuesday. L.A. now has seven of its last 11 games at Staples Center.

"These were all very big games, very meaningful for everybody," coach Terry Murray said. "To win four in a row like this, at this time of the year, it's a big dig-in by everybody. Everybody came into this road trip with a playoff mentality and did the right things in most of the games, certainly enough to get the job done. Now we've got to make sure we're bringing this attitude back, and do the same thing at Staples Center."

Who's hot -- Kings center Anze Kopitar had a goal and an assist in Nashville and had 5 goals and 7 points on the road trip. He's climbed to seventh in the overall scoring race with 72 points. Justin Williams has 7 points in the Kings' last five games.

Injury report -- David Perron (concussion) and Vladimir Sobotka (foot) are on IR for St. Louis while Alexander Steen (ankle) and Barret Jackman (finger) are out for the remainder of the season. … The Kings are without forward Alexander Loktionov due to season-ending shoulder surgery.

Stat pack -- Tuesday's win gave L.A. 40 victories this season, the first time that's happened in franchise history. In all, the Kings have eight 40-win seasons since entering the NHL in 1967. … St. Louis has won the last six games in the series and seven of the last eight. … Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick is 7-0 in shootouts and has allowed just 5 goals on 33 attempts.

Puck drop -- Kopitar will extend his franchise record for consecutive games when he steps on the ice for the 326th time in a row. He broke the team record on Tuesday, surpassing the mark set by Hall of Famer Marcel Dionne from 1978-82.

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