The Jackets Begin Their 'Tour of California' Tonight Against the Kings
Los Angeles (AP) - Alexander Frolov's recent play has been one of the few things Los Angeles Kings fans have been able to cheer about this season.
Frolov will try help the Kings extend their home unbeaten streak over the Columbus Blue Jackets to five games when the teams face off Wednesday night.
Los Angeles (14-22-5) has three wins and a tie in its last four matchups with Columbus at Staples Center since a 2-1 loss March 25, 2003.
With the first half of 2006-07 complete, Frolov leads the Kings with 21 goals and 43 points, and is on pace to easily have the best season of his four-year career. In 2003-04, the Russian left wing had a career-high 24 goals, and he recorded personal bests of 33 assists and 54 points in just 69 games last season.
On Sunday, he posted his fifth multigoal game, accounting for all the Kings' offense in a 6-2 loss to Detroit. His second goal drew Los Angeles to within 3-2 midway through the second period, but the Red Wings pulled away with three straight goals, including two in a 61-second span early in the third.
"When it was 3-2, we had momentum," Sean Avery said after the Kings' 12th straight loss to Detroit. "But they took it away, that's what good teams do."
On Tuesday, the league named Frolov its second star of the week. He had four goals and six assists in his last four games, although he has only three assists in his last five home contests. Los Angeles has gone 2-2-1 in that span, and is 9-9-5 on home ice this season.
Anze Kopitar has been another one of the few bright spots for Los Angeles. The center leads all rookies with 24 assists and is second with 35 points, one behind Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin.
Kopitar, though, has just three assists as the Kings have gone 2-3-0 in their last five games. Los Angeles is 2-13-3 when Kopitar is held without a point.
Columbus (15-20-4) defeated Los Angeles 2-0 on Oct. 27 when Pascal Leclaire made 38 saves for his first NHL shutout. Leclaire, though, will be sidelined until mid-February after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery Thursday.
The Blue Jackets recalled Ty Conklin from Syracuse of the AHL to back up Fredrik Norrena, who will take over the No. 1 job for now. Norrena has alternated wins and losses in his last seven starts, and will try to post back-to-back victories for the first time since stringing together five straight wins from Nov. 25-Dec. 12.
He made 21 saves, and Manny Malhotra snapped a second-period tie with his first goal in 11 games, to lift Columbus to a 3-1 win over Chicago on Sunday.
"It's one of the teams we have to catch," Malhotra said of the Blackhawks. "We tried to set the tone of the game and not allow them to get off to their high-tempo style of play."
The Blue Jackets were outshot 10-5 in the first period and trailed 1-0, but limited Chicago to 12 shots the rest of the way for their fourth win in five home games.
"Frankly I didn't think we showed up in the first period," said forward Rick Nash, tied with Sergei Fedorov for the team lead with 13 goals. "But we stayed with it and dominated the rest of the game."
Columbus, which starts a three-game swing through California with Wednesday's contest, has been shut out twice during a four-game road losing streak. The other defeats have come in overtime and in a shootout.