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Preview: Blues at Kings

St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock sticking with struggling goalie Jake Allen against Los Angeles

by Abbey Mastracco / Correspondent

BLUES (21-15-5) at KINGS (20-17-4)

10:30 p.m. ET; SN, SN360, FS-W, FS-MW, NHL.TV


Blues team scope

Goalie Jake Allen will start for the St. Louis Blues after allowing three goals on 11 shots in the first period of a 5-3 loss to the Boston Bruins on Tuesday. Allen is 3-6-0 with an .886 save percentage in his past 10 starts but coach Ken Hitchcock gave him a vote of confidence. "You know what, you've just got to make decisions that if he's your guy, he's your guy," Hitchcock said. "It's easy to stick with people when things are going well. Things aren't going well for Jake, he knows he's going to be better, he knows he has to be better, he can be better and let's give him the opportunity." Captain Alex Pietrangelo will play in his 500th NHL game, all with the Blues. St. Louis begins a three-game road trip through California having alternated wins and losses in their past eight games (4-4-0). 


Kings team scope

The Los Angeles Kings have had three days off since a 6-4 loss to the Dallas Stars on Monday. Though they combined to score eight goals in their past two games (1-1-0), coach Darryl Sutter lamented the defense and goaltending at practice this week. "We scored four goals our last two games, you should win both games," Sutter said. "You score four goals, you should win. We gave up the fewest shots in the League again. You shouldn't have to score five." Goalie Peter Budaj was the first goalie off the ice and is expected to start. Sutter sees similarities between the Kings and Blues in that each are trying to stabilize their goaltending. "They're like us," Sutter said. "They don't give up many shots against but their goals against and save percentage is probably not where they would like it. In order for us to stay in the race our goaltending has to be average. I'm sure we're both saying the same thing." The Kings (44 points) are tied with the Vancouver Canucks for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference.


Blues projected lineup

Alexander Steen -- Paul Stastny -- Nail Yakupov

Robby Fabbri -- Jori Lehtera -- Vladamir Tarasenko

Jaden Schwartz -- Patrik Berglund -- David Perron

Scottie Upshall -- Kyle Brodziak -- Ryan Reaves

Alex Pietrangelo -- Colton Parayko

Jay Bouwmeester -- Kevin Shattenkirk

Joel Edmundson -- Robert Bortuzzo

Jake Allen

Carter Hutton

Scratched: Scottie Upshall, Dmitrij Jaskin, Brad Hunt

Injured: Carl Gunnarsson (lower body)


Kings projected lineup

Marian Gaborik -- Anze Kopitar -- Trevor Lewis 

Tanner Pearson -- Jeff Carter -- Dustin Brown

Kyle Clifford -- Nic Dowd -- Devin Setoguchi

Dwight King -- Nick Shore -- Jordan Nolan

Derek Forbort -- Drew Doughty

Jake Muzzin -- Alec Martinez

Brayden McNabb -- Matt Greene

Peter Budaj

Jeff Zatkoff 

Scratched: Andy Andreoff, Kevin Gravel, Tom Gilbert

Injured: Jonathan Quick (groin), Tyler Toffoli (lower body)


Status report

Bortuzzo has been cleared to return from a lower-body injury that's kept him out since Dec. 3. He was paired with Edmundsson during the morning skate at Staples Center. … Pietrangelo was moved to the left side and Parayko was promoted to the top pair. … Gunnarsson is practicing but was ruled out.


Who's hot

Steen has five points in his past four games. … Tarasenko has four goals in four games and 16 points in his past 15. … Stastny has four points in three games. … Fabbri has six points in six games. … Carter has four points in his past two games and eight goals and five assists in his past 10. … Doughty has four points in two games. … Kopitar has three points in two games.

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