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The slumping Columbus Blue Jackets continue to have trouble scoring. They hope a visit from the dismal Los Angeles Kings on Friday night can help them put an end to a rough stretch.
The Blue Jackets (14-13-6), losers of four of their last five games, have dropped two in a row since a 4-1 win over Colorado on Dec. 12. They have one goal in those two defeats, falling 2-0 at Boston on Saturday before a 3-1 home loss to Calgary on Tuesday.
Columbus' 82 goals are among the fewest in the NHL. The Blue Jackets, though, could get untracked offensively when they face the NHL's worst defensive team.
The Kings (12-21-2), whose 26 points are the fewest in the league, have given up an NHL-worst 119 goals. They lost 6-2 at Detroit on Wednesday to give them a season high-tying five straight defeats - their third such slide of the season. Los Angeles has been outscored 22-9 during its current skid.
Columbus has already exploited Los Angeles' poor defensive play once this season, winning 4-1 at Staples Center on Oct. 31. The Blue Jackets have also dominated the series on home ice, winning seven of the last eight meetings.
The Blue Jackets are struggling offensively because their top scorers are slumping. Rick Nash, the team leader with 18 goals, is in a five-game goal drought and has scored only twice in the last 11 contests.
The All-Star left wing, though, had a goal and an assist in the last meeting with Los Angeles, giving him six goals and seven assists in the last 10 matchups.
Nikolai Zherdev has also failed to find the net recently, going without a goal for three games following a career-high five-game goal streak. The right wing is second on Columbus with 12 goals, but hasn't had much success against the Kings, failing to score in four meetings.
Columbus' Pascal Leclaire will be looking for his first win since beating Detroit in a shootout Nov. 24. Two nights after that victory, he tweaked his hamstring and had to leave a loss at Edmonton. He has struggled at times since, going 0-2-1 with a 3.24 goals-against average in his last four games.
Leclaire is also hoping the meeting with the Kings can help him get back on track. He's 2-0 with a 0.50 goals-against average and one shutout in two starts against Los Angeles, making 33 saves in the Oct. 31 victory.
Los Angeles will be trying to avoid its first six-game losing streak since March 24-April 5.
Sluggish starts have marked the Kings' five-game slide, as they've been outscored 10-2 in the first period during the stretch. They allowed a power-play goal 59 seconds into Wednesday's loss.
"The first minute of the game we got a penalty and it went from there," said the Kings' Jason LaBarbera, who made 29 saves against the Red Wings.
Patrick O'Sullivan scored his seventh goal of the season Wednesday and has been one of the few bright spots for Los Angeles, with two goals and four assists in his last six games after managing only four points in the previous 17. The 22-year-old center has two assists in four games against Columbus.