Kings try to continue strong run vs. Blue Jackets
BLUE JACKETS (10-24-5) at KINGS (20-14-7)
TV: FS-O (HD), FS-W (HD)
Columbus 2-7-1; Los Angeles 6-1-3
This is the second of four meetings between the Western Conference teams this season. The Kings beat the Blue Jackets, 2-1, with a pair of third-period goals in Columbus on Dec. 15.
While the Blue Jackets remain in a state of disarray, the Kings have straightened themselves out under new coach Darryl Sutter. They are 5-0-3 since Sutter made his debut on Dec. 22. In the same span of time, the Blue Jackets are 1-4-1.
It appears that things just keep getting worse for the Blue Jackets. Now Mark Letestu
is out with a broken hand, an injury he suffered when he was hit by San Jose defenseman Douglas Murray in the third period of Columbus' 2-1 loss on Thursday.
Letestu has 10 points in 25 games since being traded to Columbus from Pittsburgh. He had 4 assists in his last five games before going down with the injury that is expected to keep him out for a month.
"That's hockey," Letestu told the Columbus Dispatch. "You get hit by a big guy and it happens. I must have done it when I put my hand up against the boards to brace myself. I actually didn't feel it until I got back to the bench. It numbed up and I knew something was wrong."
Columbus recalled Ryan Russell
from AHL Springfield. He's expected to make his NHL debut against the Kings.
They've earned five out of a possible six points so far on their current six-game homestand, and have moved into a playoff position in the Western Conference. The Kings have scored only 15 goals in their eight games under Sutter, including two or fewer in six of them, but they've still picked up 13 points.
Los Angeles picked up five points in its final eight games before Terry Murray got fired on Dec. 12.
"It doesn't matter how we do it, as long as we are getting two points and we continue to climb the standings," goalie Jonathan Quick said following the Kings' 1-0 win over Phoenix on Thursday. "That's what we are trying to do here."
Quick has started eight of the last nine games and is 6-0-2 with 10 goals allowed. He made 22 saves in a 1-0 win over Phoenix on Thursday for his League-best sixth shutout of the season. Quick had only six shutouts last season.
The Blue Jackets will be without Letestu (hand), James Wisniewski
(ankle), and Kristian Huselius
(lower body), who on Friday was placed on injured reserve retroactive to Dec. 6. … The Kings are playing without Simon Gagne (upper body, possible concussion). Defenseman Slava Voynov (upper body) practiced Friday after missing the previous two games.
The Kings' penalty-kill is perfect on its last 28 chances. In fact, they haven't allowed a power-play goal since Sutter took over (22-for-22). The Blue Jackets did not have a power play in their 2-1 loss to San Jose on Thursday.
Drew Doughty, who scored the Kings' only goal in their win Thursday, said after the game that he knows the team has to start putting more pucks into the net so Quick's margin for error isn't so slim. However, he also praised the way the team is playing under Sutter:
"The boys are playing great right now," Doughty said. "He's doing a great job. He's making sure we're hard on pucks and not letting us step off the pedal one bit. He's making us work hard -- be faster on pucks, whatever zone it's in and that's the key reason to success."