Although they scored enough to win their latest game, the Los Angeles Kings will likely need to pick up the pace offensively if they want to protect their slim lead in the Pacific Division.
The Kings will seek those improved performances during a three-week stretch in Southern California but it's unclear if they'll have leading scorer Anze Kopitar available Tuesday night against the Calgary Flames.
Los Angeles (34-20-4) didn't look like it would have any offensive issues after opening a seven-game trip with a 9-2 pasting of Boston on Feb. 9. The Kings scored a combined 16 goals while winning two of the first three on that trek but netted just four in the final four contests.
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They managed to snap an 0-2-1 skid with a 2-1 overtime victory against Nashville on Saturday. Thanks to Tanner Pearson's goal, Los Angeles is two points ahead of Anaheim in the Pacific.
Kopitar missed that game after leaving a 2-1 overtime defeat to St. Louis on Thursday because of a lower-body injury, and Jordan Nolan sat out with an undisclosed ailment. The Kings' scoring slump has coincided with Marian Gaborik's knee injury, and the forward is not expected to return until the playoffs.
Kopitar, who has 51 points, and Nolan both skated Monday.
“Right now, being still a little bit of time until April, it was the best for me to take the rest and get back to 100 percent,” Kopitar told the team's official website. “I felt good before (Saturday's) game. It just tightened up on me, and that was it. I didn't have enough strength (where) I thought I could be effective on the ice.”
Kopitar will try to return for a stretch in which the Kings will play eight of nine at home. Their road contest is against Anaheim on Sunday.
A visit from the Flames (26-29-3) could aid Los Angeles' chances of avoiding four straight home losses for the first time since Jan. 25-Feb. 3, 2014, considering Calgary has lost four of five and has given up a combined 27 goals in its past six.
Calgary's last five contests have come since netminder Karri Ramo's season-ending knee injury, and Jonas Hiller matched his season high for goals allowed in a 5-2 loss in Anaheim on Sunday. The Flames were outscored 3-1 in the third period.
“We were right in that game, and we just let it get away from us in the third and basically handed it to them,” defenseman Mark Giordano said. “It's really disappointing.”
The Flames weren't helped by a short-handed defense corps. Kris Russell missed his fourth consecutive game because of a lower-body injury, and Ladislav Smid is on IR with an upper-body ailment.
Los Angeles won 4-1 in Calgary on Dec. 31 in the only other matchup with the Flames this season. The Kings have lost four of the last five home meetings.
Calgary's leading scorer Johnny Gaudreau has four goals and four assists in six career games against Los Angeles. Hiller is 4-1-1 with a 2.02 goals-against average in his past six regular-season matchups.
Kings' counterpart Jonathan Quick has a 1.99 GAA in his last five against the Flames, but has been on the losing end in three of those games.