National Hockey League

NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Wednesday, February 26th (All times Eastern)

Los Angeles Kings (31-22-6) at Colorado Avalanche (37-16-5), 10 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Los Angeles Kings weren't playing their best hockey before the league went on break during the Winter Olympics.

Given some time to sort things out, the Kings hope to get on track Wednesday night as they visit the Colorado Avalanche.

Los Angeles had lost four straight and nine of 10 before picking up a home victory over Columbus in its final game before the hiatus. That gave the Kings a four-point edge over the Phoenix Coyotes for third place in the Pacific Division and an automatic playoff berth.

A number of Kings skaters saw action during the Olympics in Sochi, Russia, including forward Jeff Carter and defenseman Drew Doughty for gold medal- winning Canada.

It was a great tournament for Doughty, who scored four goals and had six points.

The trip may have been less enjoyable for goaltender Jonathan Quick, who backstopped a Team USA that was bested by Canada in the semifinals before losing to Finland in the bronze medal game. Quick yielded 11 goals in five games during the tournament, posting a .923 save percentage.

Those involved will now need to put the highs and lows of the Olympics behind them.

"We understand the position that we're in," forward Mike Richards told lakingsinsider.com. "We've got 23 games left and even though we didn't play very well, we're still in the same position as we were before. So we just have to look to not repeat things."

Like the Kings, the Avalanche sit in third place in their division, but own a 10-point edge over the Minnesota Wild in the Central standings. Colorado also is just five points back of division co-leaders St. Louis and Chicago.

Colorado went 2-0-2 on a four-game road trip before the break and has won five of its last seven overall.

The Avs return a pair of medal winners to the ice in Canadian Matt Duchene and forward Gabriel Landeskog, who claimed silver with Sweden.

Colorado will be without defenseman Erik Johnson for the first two contests of a three-game homestand after he picked up a two-game suspension ahead of the break. He received the ban for a two-handed slash of New York Islanders forward Frans Nielsen on Feb. 8.

Johnson also will sit out Friday's game versus Phoenix.

Colorado also learned it will be without veteran forward Alex Tanguay for the rest of the season after he underwent hip surgery.

Tanguay sat out 36 games from Nov. 6-Jan. 21 with a hip injury, opting for rehab instead of surgery. He made his return to the lineup on Jan. 24, but was unable to play Colorado's final five games before the Olympic break due to a knee issue caused by his hip injury.

The Avalanche are 6-1-2 in their last nine meetings with the Kings, splitting a pair of matchups this season in Los Angeles that both went beyond regulation.

Colorado has won the past three encounters on home ice.

02/26 10:44:20 ET

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