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Red-hot Blue Jackets take on struggling Kings
(SportsNetwork.com) - While the Olympic break may be ill-timed for the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Los Angeles Kings probably can't wait to get away from their struggles for a few weeks.
The Kings aim to snap a four-game slide on Thursday night as they host the rolling Blue Jackets.
Los Angeles is just 1-8-1 over its past 10 games, though it is still third overall in the Pacific Division with 66 points. That is three ahead of Vancouver but now 12 behind the second-place San Jose Sharks.
The Kings went into Monday night's meeting with the Chicago Blackhawks having scored just three goals in their previous six games. Though they matched that output in just 60 minutes, they still fell 5-3 to the 'Hawks.
Anze Kopitar scored and assisted on goals by defenseman Drew Doughty and linemate Tyler Toffoli. Jeff Carter added two assists and Jonathan Quick allowed five goals on 30 shots.
Tonight, Los Angeles is set to play its last game before the NHL breaks for the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia and the Kings will try to put together a solid effort to build on.
"We've got one game left. You plan on playing your best game of the year," said Kings coach Darryl Sutter.
Kopitar and Carter are the likely duo to lead the charge. Kopitar has four goals and 11 points over his last 14 games, while Carter, a former Blue Jacket, has eight goals and six assists in his last 18 games.
The Blue Jackets continue to trend in the right direction, having won 11 of their last 14 games. That has Columbus tied with the Philadelphia Flyers for third place in the Metropolitan Division and three points back of the second- place New York Rangers.
Columbus won a club-record eight straight games from Jan. 6-23, a span that included a home win over Los Angeles, and then lost three straight. However, the Blue Jackets have responded with another three wins in a row, including Monday's 4-2 win over the hosting Anaheim Ducks.
Sergei Bobrovsky came up with 34 saves and Nick Foligno scored twice in the third period to fuel the victory. R.J. Umberger added a goal and an assist and Ryan Johansen scored for the fourth time in three games.
"We were better tonight but we still have to get better in terms of playing the third period with a lead," Columbus head coach Todd Richards said.
The Blue Jackets continue a four-game road trip on Friday in San Jose, but don't wrap the swing until Feb. 27 in New Jersey in their first game back after the Olympic break.
Columbus hopes to have defenseman James Wisniewski tonight as he has been playing through a lower-body injury but did not practice on Wednesday.
Forward Nathan Horton had an assist in Monday's win, improving the Blue Jackets to 8-0-0 this season when the former Boston Bruin logs a point. He had a goal in a 5-3 win over the visiting Kings on Jan. 21.
Umberger scored twice and Bobrovsky made 26 saves. He improved to 1-3-0 with a 2.03 goals against average lifetime versus Los Angeles, but is 12-2-0 with a 2.04 GAA in his past 14 starts overall.
Carter had a goal for the Kings, while backup netminder Martin Jones yielded five goals on 34 shots.
Quick is 10-5-0 with a 2.00 GAA in his career versus the Blue Jackets.
Columbus snapped a three-game slide to the Kings, but has dropped three in a row and six of its last eight in Los Angeles.
02/06 11:27:11 ET
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