Kings-Blue Jackets Preview

The Los Angeles Kings got off to a strong start on a critical

road trip.

They’ll look for a second straight win Friday night when they

try to hand the slumping Columbus Blue Jackets a seventh loss in a


Los Angeles (37-25-5) entered this four-game trip with losses in

three of four games, but put together a solid performance in a 2-1

win at Detroit on Wednesday. The Kings were outshot 11-3 in the

first period before Anze Kopitar and Alexei Ponikarovsky scored in

the second, and Jonathan Quick stopped all 18 shots over the final

40 minutes.

“We played a great second period. I think we outplayed them and

got chances and scored two big goals,” Quick said. “You could tell

it was really hard for them to get through the neutral zone. It was

hard on them.”

The Kings have 79 points in the crowded Western Conference race,

and have 15 games left to gain a second straight playoff berth.

“We’ve got to keep on it,” Quick told the Kings’ official

website. “We’ve got to keep pushing here, to make sure we’re in

that top eight at the end of the year.”

Los Angeles has totaled seven goals over its last four games,

but may be able to get untracked against Columbus (31-26-9). The

Kings have won five of the last six meetings by outscoring the Blue

Jackets 28-15.

Quick is 5-1-0 with a 2.31 goals-against average in his last six

starts against the Blue Jackets while backup Jonathan Bernier has

never started against them.

Columbus has picked a terrible time for its longest skid since a

nine-game slide Dec. 10-26, 2009. Every loss has been by one goal

aside from a 4-2 defeat at Edmonton last Thursday in which the

Oilers had an empty-net tally.

The Blue Jackets fell 5-4 in a shootout at St. Louis on Monday

and blew a three-goal lead in a 4-3 overtime home loss to the Blues

on Wednesday. Captain Rick Nash’s goalless streak has reached seven


“For about 33 minutes we did everything we wanted to do – we

played hard, created chances, had some opportunities and scored

some goals,” coach Scott Arniel said Wednesday. “For the remaining

27 minutes, we stopped playing. We made lots of mistakes. We got

careless and got away from what we were doing right in the first

half of the game.”

Derick Brassard returned Wednesday for his first action after

missing eight games with an injured hand. Brassard had an assist,

and is fourth on the team with 40 points.

“He did a lot of good things and he skated very well,” Arniel

said. “He had some good chances himself.”

Neither Columbus goalie is playing well. Steve Mason is 0-2-2

with a 3.44 GAA in his last four starts and backup Mathieu Garon is

0-1-2 with a 3.26 GAA in his last three.

Kopitar has five goals and five assists during an eight-game

point streak against the Blue Jackets while defenseman Drew Doughty

has 10 points in a six-game run against them.