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Wings continue trip in Los Angeles

by Pete Jensen

RED WINGS (9-7-1) at KINGS (10-6-3)

TV: NHLN-US (HD), FS-Detroit (HD), FS-West (HD)

Last 10: Detroit 4-5-1; Los Angeles 4-4-2

Season Series: Saturday marks the first of four regular-season meetings between these Western Conference foes. The Kings won three of the four head-to-head meetings last season.

Big Story: Fresh off a home-and-home sweep of the crosstown rival Ducks, the Kings look to make it four straight wins when they host the road-weary Red Wings on Saturday afternoon at Staples Center. Detroit suffered its fifth straight road loss on Thursday in San Jose, but hopes to bounce back in Los Angeles before closing out its Golden State road trip in Anaheim on Sunday.

Team Scope:

Red Wings: After a six-game winless streak, Detroit appeared to be back on track when it won four in a row on its recent homestand. But if the first two games of their road trip are any indication, the Red Wings have again proved they are the League's streakiest team.

Detroit's offense has generated just three goals in losses at St. Louis and San Jose this week. Niklas Kronwall spotted the Wings a 1-0 lead in the opening period on Thursday, but the Sharks chased Jimmy Howard and reeled off five unanswered goals to put the game away.

"It's one of those games where you think you did lots of good things," Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "We played, I thought, really well in the first period, and we gifted a goal at the end. Then I thought we were playing real [well] in the second and we turned the puck over at their blue line, and when they got their chances, they scored. We haven't scored easy all year long, and [Thursday] was one of those nights."

Kings: With four wins in its last five games, Los Angeles is finally seeing its balanced offensive attack take shape.

The Kings, who sport the fifth-best power-play conversion mark in the League (20.2 percent), thrived on special teams again on Thursday. Slava Voynov notched a third-period goal with the man advantage, and Simon Gagne and Mike Richards scored shorthanded goals to lift the Kings into sole possession of first-place in the Pacific Division.

"That's what our team was working on all summer," said center Anze Kopitar, who scored the go-ahead goal late in the third period to help L.A. complete the sweep of Anaheim. "Mike [Richards] chipped in twice tonight and Simon [Gagne] made a couple of really nice plays. It's the scoring we need, the secondary scoring. Even though sometimes [our top-six forwards] don't score any goals, we still get production from other guys, and that's when you win games."

Who's Hot: After mustering only two points in his first 10 games this season, Kronwall has re-discovered his scoring touch with four goals and two assists in his last seven games. … Richards was off to a slow start of his own in his first season with the Kings, but has reeled off five goals in as many games for Los Angeles.

Injury Report: Scott Parse (lower body), Dustin Penner (hand) and Alec Martinez are on injured reserve for Los Angeles. … Jan Mursak (ankle), Todd Bertuzzi (illness) and Ian White (cheekbone) will miss Saturday's game for the Red Wings.

Stat Pack: Gagne and Richards each scored shorthanded goals in the Kings' 5-3 win over the Ducks on Thursday, the first two such goals tallied by Los Angeles this season. Thursday also marked the first time the Kings scored two shorthanded goals in a game in just over six years. Craig Conroy and Alexander Frolov did it in L.A.'s win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Nov. 13, 2005.

Puck Drop: "We're at the point: We've got to make a decision what kind of team we want to be, and how hard we want to play for 60 minutes, and get this looked after," Babcock told the Detroit Free Press. "Because you can't let this snowball on you."

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