Avalanche-Kings Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated April 11, 2013
The Los Angeles Kings haven't lost three straight since their 0-2-1 start, but coach Darryl Sutter doesn't seem overly concerned. His Kings ended a five-game losing streak to the NHL-worst Colorado Avalanche the last time these teams met heading into Thursday night's meeting at Staples Center. Los Angeles (22-14-4) fell 4-3 in a shootout at Anaheim on Sunday and 5-1 at Dallas on Tuesday. The Kings are in fourth place in the Western Conference with 48 points. "Sure there's red flags, and you do keep pushing forward," Sutter told the Kings' official website. "I mean, when isn't there a red flag, and when don't you push forward? Every game there's a red flag for every team. So whether it's individually or team-wise, it's all different, and they're not all the same. That's part of it." Top scorer Anze Kopitar finished a season-worst minus-four on Tuesday as the Kings were outscored 4-0 in the third period. Jeff Carter had a three-game goal streak snapped. Sutter isn't too worried about any negative effects. "You know what? You don't have to re-teach," he said. "These guys, there's a reason they're the defending Stanley Cup champions, right? Because when they have a rough game, they're able to handle it properly." The Kings had dropped five straight to the Avalanche (13-22-5), including the first matchup this season, before ending that slide with a 4-1 victory Feb. 23 in the last meeting. Kopitar had a goal and an assist, with Carter, Dustin Brown and Trevor Lewis adding the other tallies. Los Angeles totaled six goals over its previous five meetings with Colorado. The Avalanche snapped their 14-game road losing streak Wednesday with a 4-1 win over the Ducks. The 0-11-3 slide was the franchise's longest on the road since a team-record 18-game skid as the Quebec Nordiques from Jan. 18-April 1, 1990. Jean-Sebastien Giguere made 21 saves for his first win in nearly two months just two days after ripping his teammates' work ethic and focus. Colorado ended an 0-4-1 overall slide. "Whenever you speak up, you expose yourself to criticism," Giguere said. "You have to respond yourself. You can't just say stuff and not show up the next day. I'm just as (much a) part of the problem as the other guys, and I have to be part of the solution.'' Matt Duchene had a goal and an assist and P.A. Parenteau added two assists for Colorado, which had not scored more than two goals in any of its previous seven games. Goaltender Semyon Varlamov did not make this road trip due to a hip injury. Sami Aittokallio was called up from the minors Tuesday, and coach Joe Sacco said at practice that day that he may give the Finnish native his NHL debut against the Kings. Right wing Milan Hejduk made the trip and could return Thursday after missing the last six games with a shoulder injury. Paul Stastny returned Wednesday for Colorado after missing eight games with a left foot injury.
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