Kings-Hurricanes Preview

The Associated Press

The Los Angeles Kings have done a very good job lately picking up points on the road. They'll have plenty more opportunities to do that over the next two weeks after coming up empty in the opener of an extended trip.

The Kings attempt to beat the last-place Carolina Hurricanes for a fourth consecutive meeting Saturday night in the teams' only meeting this season.

Los Angeles (25-17-10) opened this six-game road trip with Friday's 1-0 loss to St. Louis after winning the previous two games at home.

"St. Louis has the best home record in the league for a good reason," coach Darryl Sutter said.

The Kings had gained at least a point in seven straight road games (4-0-3) before they were shut out for the sixth time this season Friday. Since an 8-2 loss at Detroit on Dec. 17, Sutter's team has allowed only 10 goals in its last eight road games.

Los Angeles has won three straight against the Hurricanes (19-25-9), including a 5-2 road victory on Nov. 11, 2009. The Kings took the lone matchup last season, 4-3 on Oct. 20, 2010.

Anze Kopitar, the team leader with 15 goals and 45 points, has been a factor in each of those three wins against the Hurricanes, scoring two goals with three assists. He's likely looking forward to another meeting since he has just one goal and one assist in the last five games.

Mike Richards isn't providing much support, either. The center has just four points - one goal - in 17 games, and doesn't have any in the last seven.

He's managed just 14 goals and 12 assists in his first season with Los Angeles after being acquired in a blockbuster trade from Philadelphia in the offseason.

Richards, though, has scored in each of the last four visits to Carolina, totaling eight points in 10 career games there.

The Hurricanes are trying to build on Thursday's 3-0 win at Boston that completed a stunning sweep of the defending Stanley Cup champions.

"It was probably the best game we have played all year," coach Kirk Muller said. "Guys get excited to play the Stanley Cup champs. Seems to bring out the best in our game."

Despite sweeping the Bruins, Carolina is 11 points behind the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

"We have to play every team like they are the Bruins," said Cam Ward, who made 47 saves Thursday.

The Hurricanes seem to be doing just that at home, going 7-2-1 in their last 10 at RBC Center with Ward starting each game and compiling a 1.88 goals-against average.

He's been even better in his last five overall games, going 3-1-1 with a 1.19 GAA and two shutouts, and that might be good enough reason for Muller to turn to him again.

Ward hasn't faced the Kings since stopping 20 shots in a 4-3 overtime road loss on Oct. 17, 2008.

Eric Staal leads Carolina with 38 points, and he scored his 12th goal Thursday. The center has four goals and seven assists in the last eight home games. He has two goals and four assists in five career meetings with Los Angeles, getting one of each in last season's contest.

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