Avalanche-Kings Preview

The Associated Press

An injury to goaltender Jonathan Quick last month could have been a blow to the Los Angeles Kings, but their backups have been solid behind a potent offense during the team's recent surge.

Los Angeles seeks its ninth victory in 10 games overall while looking to avenge an earlier loss to the visiting Colorado Avalanche on Saturday.

Quick, who won the Conn Smythe Trophy while guiding the Kings to the Stanley Cup title in 2012, suffered a groin injury in overtime of a shootout loss to Buffalo on Nov. 12. Though he's been skating recently, there's no timetable for his return.

Ben Scrivens and undrafted rookie Martin Jones have filled in nicely for Los Angeles (24-8-4), which has gone 13-2-3 while allowing a league-low 1.33 goals per game since Quick's injury.

Colorado's goalie tandem of Semyon Varlamov and Jean-Sebastien Giguere has also excelled this season, save for a stretch in which Varlamov lost four of six starts following his arrest on domestic violence charges stemming from an Oct. 30 incident with his girlfriend. Denver prosecutors announced Friday that they are dropping the case, saying they have new information leading them to believe they couldn't win a conviction.

Jones has been especially stellar for the Kings since his NHL debut Dec. 3 against Anaheim, posting three shutouts while starting seven of the Kings' last eight games. Scrivens was in net for their only loss this month, a 3-1 defeat at Chicago in which he made 37 saves.

Jones has a 0.85 goals-against average after stopping 31 shots in Thursday's 4-1 win over San Jose and will look to match Bob Froese's NHL-record 8-0-0 start to a career set in 1982-83 the next time he's in net.

"I'm happy with the way I've played thus far, but we've still got two games until the (Christmas) break," Jones said. "It's fun, but we want to make sure we finish out these games the right way."

Fellow rookie Tyler Toffoli had a goal and an assist against the Sharks. Los Angeles has outscored opponents 30-11 over its last nine, ranking near the top of the league in scoring with 3.33 goals per game in that stretch.

"It's not a real surprise to me," Toffoli said of Jones' play. "He's just a big goalie, and he's always in the right spot."

Scrivens was between the pipes the last time the Kings faced Colorado, making 32 saves before Jamie McGinn scored in overtime to give the Avalanche a 1-0 win Nov. 23.

Varlamov stopped 19 shots in that contest, and he made 27 saves Thursday to help Colorado (23-10-1) earn a 4-2 win over Edmonton. He's won two straight starts following a stretch in which he went 1-2-1 with a 3.63 GAA.

"It was an important win for us," coach Patrick Roy said. "You don't want to use words like 'crucial' or 'must-win,' but it was an important two points for us."

Matt Duchene had two assists and added an empty-netter, giving him four goals and six assists over his last five games. He totaled just one assist over his previous eight contests, missing three in that stretch with an oblique injury.

"I just got back to doing what I was doing before I got hurt," Duchene said. "I was in a huge slump before this so you just stick with it to try and get back to basics. You just want to keep it going here."

Maxime Talbot added a short-handed goal for the Avalanche, who have killed off 10 of 11 penalties over the last four games.

"Every time you get a goal on a PK it's always huge," Talbot said.

Though the Kings have been solid 5-on-5, they've gone just 3 for 43 (7.0 percent) on the power play over their last 14 games.

Colorado has won six of the last eight meetings.

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