Blue Jackets-Kings Preview
It wasn't enough to get the Kings a victory, but they are hopeful of ending a four-game skid when they host the surging Blue Jackets on Thursday night.
Los Angeles (30-22-6) fell 5-3 at home to Chicago on Monday after a 1-5-0 stretch in which it totaled three goals - all in separate contests by Anze Kopitar. Against the Blackhawks, Kopitar had support with Drew Doughty and Tyler Toffoli also scoring.
''Tonight, energy-wise I think, was our best night in a while,'' captain Dustin Brown said. ''We've got to just keep plugging along. I know it's a broken record, but we're not going to get out of it by doing anything different. ... There's definitely frustration. If you're not frustrated in this room, there's something wrong with you.''
The Kings turned in their best offensive effort since a 5-3 loss at Columbus (29-23-4) on Jan. 21. That was the last game in which Jeff Carter scored.
Carter leads the team with 20 goals, but the former Blue Jackets winger is trying to avoid going eight straight games without one for the first time since Oct. 7-Nov. 17, 2011, with Columbus.
Mike Richards is pointless in seven straight entering the Kings' final game before the Olympic break.
''I think that we have a couple of guys that are frustrated with their own games,'' coach Darryl Sutter said. ''They're having a hard time right now, whether it's the schedule or just where they're at with their own games. That's something they need to deal with themselves, for sure.''
The Blue Jackets have two games left before the break and are 11-3-0 in their last 14 after opening this three-game trip with a 4-2 victory over Anaheim on Monday. Nick Foligno scored twice and R.J. Umberger added a goal and an assist in Columbus' third straight win.
''We are really playing to our identity right now,'' Umberger said. ''We are working hard. We are a gritty team. We let our forecheck do the work for us. We don't score too many pretty goals. We're just kind of a team that grinds it out."
Ryan Johansen has five points in his last three games for Columbus, which has killed off all 12 power plays against during this win streak.
Los Angeles is among the worst teams in the league on the power play at 14.0 percent. The Kings have gone 2 for 30 in eight games since visiting Columbus.
"I think we're making steps in the right direction," Brown said. "Again, there is a lot of pucks laying around the net and we have to find a way to get those."
The Blue Jackets are 0 for 26 on the power play in their last seven at Los Angeles and 2 for 73 in the past 17 there. Columbus has gone 1 for 48 in the last 14 overall in this series.
This matchup should be physical as Los Angeles is second in the NHL with 32.19 hits per game and Columbus is third at 30.21. The Blue Jackets held a 39-23 edge in that department last month.