Kings-Blues Preview

The Associated Press

While the Los Angeles Kings are mired in their longest losing streak of the season, the St. Louis Blues are rolling but don't know if their top two goal scorers will be available.

These clubs have played seven straight one-goal games dating to last season's playoffs, and the Kings will make their first visit to St. Louis since that series Thursday night.

Los Angeles (25-12-4) is seeking to avoid its first five-game slide since Dec. 3-13, 2011. The Kings will try to salvage the finale of this four-game trip that has consisted solely of one-goal defeats, including Tuesday's 3-2 loss to Dallas.

"You've got to work harder," defenseman Matt Greene said. "You've got to pay more attention to details and get back to playing our game. We're not playing as well as we can right now, and that's it."

St. Louis (27-7-5) enters on a 5-0-1 surge even though it didn't have Alexander Steen and David Backes in Tuesday's 2-1 victory over Minnesota. Steen and Backes have combined for 40 goals, and were out with upper-body injuries.

"Our lineup is what it is right now and we've just got to find a way," coach Ken Hitchcock said. "Nobody is feeling sorry for us. We've got to find ways to get points, and this is good."

Jaden Schwartz has helped pick up the slack by scoring in six straight games for the Blues. He also assisted on T.J. Oshie's tally against the Wild.

"Obviously, we miss those guys a lot, but it's a chance for more guys to get an opportunity and step up," Schwartz said. "I think we're doing a good job of that, everyone is chipping in and playing hard defensively and it's paying off right now."

Los Angeles has totaled six goals during its losing streak, with none by Dustin Brown. Brown has seven goals in 40 games - he scored an average of 24.8 the past six seasons - and Kings coach Darryl Sutter has made clear that he wants to see more.

"He's got seven goals in 41 (team) games," Sutter said. "So I'd say his scoring is off. Based on that, he's a 14-goal scorer. That's not enough, right?"

Brown, Backes, Oshie and the Blues' Kevin Shattenkirk were named Wednesday to the United States Olympic team. Injured Kings goalie Jonathan Quick is also on the squad.

With Quick out, Sutter will turn to either Ben Scrivens or Martin Jones on Thursday. Scrivens has won his only two career starts against the Blues and Jones has never faced them.

Los Angeles is visiting St. Louis for the first time since capturing Game 5 of last season's first-round series, winning in six games after dropping the first two. The Kings also swept the Blues two seasons ago and are 13-2-0 in the last 15 overall matchups, winning 3-2 at home Dec. 2 behind two goals from Tyler Toffoli.

Hitchcock will choose between Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott. Halak started the first meeting and fell to 1-5-0 with a 3.34 goals-against average in his last six starts versus Los Angeles. Elliott posted a 2.44 GAA while starting all 10 postseason games against the Kings over the last two seasons, and he went 6-0-1 with a 1.67 GAA in December.

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