These teams meet for the third time Wednesday night, with the Kings 7-0-2 in their last nine games and the Blue Jackets winners of five of six.
Los Angeles (31-22-3) is four points ahead of Columbus (28-23-5), which is 12th in the tightly packed Western Conference but less than 10 points from the No. 4 spot.
The Kings are 4-0-2 on their franchise-record 10-game trip. They have had two days off since two big wins over the weekend, 4-1 over Washington on Saturday and 1-0 over Philadelphia on Sunday.
“Our goaltending was outstanding,” coach Terry Murray said. “There were a lot of plays happening from behind the net, quick bang-bang plays that require incredible focus and concentration. He was right on top of it.”
Columbus also has been getting strong goaltending from Steve Mason(notes), 4-1-0 with a 1.61 GAA in his last five starts. The former Calder Trophy winner made 29 saves in Sunday’s 2-1 victory at Dallas.
“We’re coming into our own, competing hard and sticking to our system,” Mason said. “This is huge. This is a team ahead of us in the playoff race. We need as many points as we can get. It’s a conference rival, so to get the two points gets us closer to that eighth place.”
It will be interesting to see how these teams’ goalies fare after high-scoring contests in the first two matchups - both in Los Angeles. Rick Nash(notes) scored twice and Mason made 33 saves in Columbus’ 5-3 victory Nov. 17 before Jack Johnson(notes) matched a career high with three assists in the Kings’ 6-4 win Jan. 8.
Doughty amassed five assists in those games, Justin Williams(notes) had a goal and an assist in each meeting and Michal Handzus(notes) has three points in the season series for Los Angeles. Ryan Smyth(notes) scored in each matchup but has no goals in six straight, though he’s tied with Williams for the team lead with 19.
“We’re on the up slope again,” Kopitar said. “It feels way better than the down slope. We just want to stay here and keep going like that.”
The Blue Jackets are 0 for 7 on the power play against the Kings this season and have one of the league’s worst units at 13.6 percent. Los Angeles has killed off 26 of its opponents’ last 27 chances.