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Sabres seek to hand Kings a third-straight defeat

by Dan Rosen
KINGS (12-5-0) at SABRES (7-10-3)

TV -- FS-W (HD), MSG-B (HD)

Last 10 -
- Los Angeles 7-3-0; Buffalo 4-4-2

Season series -- This is the only meeting between the clubs this season.

Big Story -- The Kings are looking to snap a two-game losing streak while the Sabres are looking to get back on track after a 4-2 loss at Washington, which snapped their own two-game winning streak. Los Angeles gave up a third-period lead in Wednesday's loss to Columbus, its first home defeat of the season. They surrendered three goals in the final 20 minutes.

Team Scope:

Kings --
For the first time this season the Kings are facing a crisis (insert laughter here). So, maybe that's a pretty liberal use of the word crisis considering a two-game losing streak is hardly a reason to start beating the drum for change. But, truth be told, the Kings have lost two in a row for the first time this season. They also gave up a third-period lead for the first time this season on Wednesday. And that 5-3 loss to Columbus was their first on home ice this season. The Kings talked about having to curtail mental lapses after Wednesday's game.

"Well, they made it look easy there on a couple of those goals (Wednesday night)," coach Terry Murray said. "They got a break on their second goal, stepping out of the penalty box. Their first goal (and) their third goal I thought were breakdowns, where it was very easy for them. … We'll have to just tighten things up as we head out on the road."

Sabres -- Buffalo ran into the red-hot Washington Capitals on Wednesday and worse yet, it was an opponent looking to exact some revenge. The Sabres handed the Caps their lone blemish since Oct. 30, a 3-2 overtime win for Buffalo on Nov. 13, so it wasn't a really good time to catch the League's hottest team. Washington beat Buffalo, 4-2, to snap the Sabres two-game winning streak. Overall, though, the Sabres have been much better this month than last. They're 4-3-1 after going 3-7-2 in October. Friday's game is the first of four straight at HSBC Arena.

Who's Hot --
Kings forward Justin Williams has points in 11 straight games, including 7 goals and 7 assists. … Sabres forward Derek Roy has points in six straight games, including 3 goals and 6 assists. Thomas Vanek has 2 goals and 5 assists during his own five-game point streak.

Injury Report --
Buffalo forward Patrick Kaleta, who missed Wednesday's game with an upper-body injury, will be a game-time decision. Sabres defenseman Craig Rivet could be back in the lineup after missing two games with an illness. … The Kings have Willie Mitchell (wrist), Alexei Ponikarovsky (finger) and Scott Parse (hip) on injured reserve.

Stat Pack -- Buffalo's defensive pair of Steve Montador and Jordan Leopold have combined for 8 goals, 14 assists and a plus-15 rating this season. The Sabres have gotten 14 goals from their blueliners this season. … While Williams is rolling, so is Anze Kopitar, who has 3 goals and 6 assists over the last five games for Los Angeles. … The Sabres are just 2-6-1 at home. The Kings, who are starting a four game road trip, are 4-4 on the road.

Puck Drop -- Kings defenseman Matt Greene, who is a minus-4 over the last two games, decided to fall on the sword after Wednesday's loss by giving L.A. Kings Insider Rich Hammond these comments:

"I'm talking for myself personally, here. Obviously it's a mental game out there, in terms of defense. You have to think a little bit more than react, and right now personally I'm not doing it. I've been a culprit, with the minuses in the last couple games here. I think that's it. It's nothing to do with our scheme, nothing to do with our system. I think it's just, me myself -- I can't speak for the other guys out there -- but for me, and watching the other guys, it's not lack of commitment or effort. It's the mental side of the game that I think has slipped."
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