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Sens' trip continues in Los Angeles

by David Kalan
SENATORS (27-17-6) at KINGS (23-16-10)


Last 10: Ottawa 7-2-1; Los Angeles 4-2-4.

Season Series: This is the only meeting of the season between the teams. The Senators took the only meeting between the two a season ago, a 3-2 win at Scotiabank Place on Nov. 22, 2010.

Big Story: The Senators have a big event this weekend as for players on the roster will participate in the 2012 NHL All-Star Game in their home arena in Ottawa, but before then the Sens will have to focus on an important road test in L.A.

Team Scope:

Senators: Most might have expected the Senators to be in full rebuilding mode this season, but the players in the locker rooms at Scotiabank Place haven't played like they were among them. Ottawa has been on an absolutely torrid pace over the last month, going an impressive 13-3-2 in its last 18 games. The resulting hot streak has pulled the Sens close to the Bruins in the Northeast Division and up to the fifth spot in the Eastern Conference postseason field.

That Ottawa is playing so well is all the more remarkable considering the team is currently on a six-game road trip. Though the Sens lost Saturday night in Anaheim, 48 hours earlier they picked up a particularly impressive win in San Jose. After Monday's visit to L.A. Ottawa will visit Phoenix Tuesday night before ending the road trip a week later in Boston, with this weekend's All-Star break providing a brief respite in between.

Kings: The Kings, too, have been playing well lately, and in doing so have climbed to within one point of San Jose in the Pacific -- though the Sharks do have four games in hand. L.A. is also coming off a loss, having fallen to Colorado 3-1 Saturday night, but that defeat was the Kings first regulation loss in their last seven games. As a result, the team has climbed from outside the top eight to three points ahead of ninth-place Minnesota.

Still, despite the climb up the standings, all is not well in L.A. That three-point edge over the Wild could disappear in a hurry, and the Kings have just two games left on their current homestand, which has yet to see them register a win. Things won't get much easier when the homestand is over either. The Kings host Columbus next Wednesday night after the All-Star break, but two days later the team will embark on a six-game road trip that will have L.A. zig-zagging around the Midwest and the Eastern seaboard.

Who's Hot: Justin Williams is playing his best hockey of the season for L.A. with 9 points in his last seven games. ... Kyle Turris seems plenty happy in Ottawa, and there's no better indication than his three goals and two assists in the last five games.

Injury Report: The Kings are still missing Simon Gagne after suffering a concussion last month. Ottawa will be without Jesse Winchester (concussion) and Peter Regin (left shoulder), both of whom went on IR in December.

Stat Pack: The Senators have been almost unaffected by playing away from Ottawa, sporting nearly identical records at home (14-9-1) and on the road (13-8-5), which could spell trouble for the Kings, who are a surprisingly average (13-11-4) at the Staples Center this season.

Puck Drop: With both teams playing well, it's difficult to see whether Ottawa or L.A. will have an edge Monday, but either team's advantage is likely to be mitigated by the opponent's goalie. Craig Anderson hasn't allowed more than two goals in his last 7 starts, a feat that has essentially been matched by Jonathan Quick, who has only given up three or more goals three times in his last 15 outings.

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