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NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Thursday, January 2nd (All times Eastern)
Los Angeles Kings (25-12-4) at St. Louis Blues (27-7-5), 8 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Los Angeles Kings hope their recent mastery of the St. Louis Blues can help the club avoid its first five-game losing streak in over two years, as the teams battle Thursday night at Scottrade Center.
The Kings are mired in an 0-4-0 slide, the club's longest losing streak since a four-game skid (0-3-1) from Feb. 16-22, 2012, just a few months before Los Angeles claimed its first-ever Stanley Cup title. L.A.'s last five-game slide came earlier that season, as the Kings went 0-5-0 from Dec. 3-13, 2011.
Los Angeles, however, has won five straight in the regular season against the Blues and has won seven of eight in the series. The Kings also have won three of the past four in St. Louis.
In addition to that regular-season success, the Kings also have eliminated the Blues from the playoffs in each of the past two springs. L.A. swept St. Louis in the 2011 conference semifinals and then notched a six-game series win in the opening round last season.
The Blues, however, enter Thursday's action having won three straight and five of their last six games. With 59 points through 39 games, St. Louis is sitting second in the Central Division, three points in back of the Chicago Blackhawks, who are tied for the NHL lead with Anaheim.
Ken Hitchcock's club last played on Tuesday when it recorded a 2-1 regulation win at Minnesota. Brian Elliott turned away 24 shots for the win and came 8.3 seconds away from a shutout, as Ryan Suter scored to make it a 2-1 contest late in the third period.
Elliott also added an assist, notching the secondary helper on a goal by Jaden Schwartz. T.J. Oshie also tallied for the Blues, who have claimed eight of their last 11 games.
"Everyone is chipping in and playing hard defensively and it's paying off right now," said Schwartz.
Schwartz has scored a goal in six straight games, giving him the longest current goal streak in the NHL. The 21-year-old has 14 goals and 30 points in 37 games this season.
With Jaroslav Halak still battling an illness, Elliott expects to get a third straight start in net. Halak, who hasn't played since Saturday, is expected to be able to serve as the backup tonight.
Elliott is 0-4-1 with a 3.04 goals against average in seven career games (5 starts) against the Kings,
David Backes expects to sit out a third straight game as the veteran forward is dealing with an upper-body injury.
The Kings were dealt a 3-2 loss Tuesday in Dallas, as Tyler Seguin and Erik Cole each scored in the second period to help the Stars hand L.A. its fourth straight regulation defeat.
Ben Scrivens stopped 29 shots for the Kings, who received goals from Jeff Carter and Anze Kopitar.
"I thought we played really well, we got a little bit of a bad break on the second goal and we're not scoring any goals right now," said Los Angeles head coach Darryl Sutter. "We've played well enough to win, other than the game before Christmas, we easily could've won the last three. That's the way it goes."
Carter has recorded 12 points over his last 10 games, logging six goals and six helpers during that run. He has four goals and two assists in 12 career outings against the Blues.
Martin Jones could get the call in net on Thursday and the rookie has never faced St. Louis. Scrivens is 2-0 with a 1.92 GAA in two career games against the Blues.
01/02 10:49:45 ET
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