Sabres-Kings Preview


Following a key injury and failed comeback effort, the Los Angeles Kings have lost their momentum on this home-heavy portion of the schedule.

Perhaps a date with the NHL's worst club can get things going back in the right direction.

With Jeff Carter uncertain to return, the Kings seek their fourth win in five home games Thursday night against a Buffalo Sabres team trying to win consecutive games for the first time.

Los Angeles (9-6-0) won four of six to begin a stretch of eight of nine on its own ice, but came up short in a 4-3 loss Saturday in which it outshot visiting Nashville 38-17.

The Kings faced a two-goal deficit heading into the third period before rallying to even things up on a Mike Richards' power-play score with 8:42 remaining. The Predators, though, went back ahead with 3:56 left.

"We had a lot of shots, but maybe we should have got a little bit more bodies in front of them," said center Anze Kopitar, who has two goals and two assists in the last two games.

Kopitar and Richards, who has three goals and six points in the last six games, will try to continue that production with Carter possibly missing his second straight contest.

According to reports, the high-scoring forward was expected to miss at least a week after sustaining a lower-body injury in a 4-3 overtime victory over San Jose on Oct. 30.

Carter, who paced the Western Conference with 26 goals last season, is tied for the team lead with five and ranks among the NHL leaders with a 62.1 faceoff percentage.

His likely absence certainly hurts a Los Angeles offense that sits near the top of the league with 32.9 shots per game but hasn't been able to finish on its opportunities with 2.6 goals per game.

The Kings also could be without center Jarret Stoll, who played only a minute in the second period Saturday before leaving with an upper-body injury.

Los Angeles figures to have an easier time breaking through against a Buffalo team that has allowed among the most shots (36.4) and goals (3.1) per game in the league.

Ryan Miller, 2-10-0 with a 3.09 goals-against average, has faced an NHL-high 38.0 shots per game and needed 47 saves to give the Sabres (3-13-1) a 5-4 shootout win at San Jose on Tuesday. He's 4-0-1 with a 1.58 GAA in his last five starts against the Kings.

"To go on the road and play a team like San Jose and come in here and get two points is a big thing for us," coach Ron Rolston said. "It's our obligation now to build on that as a team."

Cody Hodgson, who sealed the win by scoring in the fourth round of the shootout, leads the Sabres with five goals and eight assists. Defenseman Henrik Tallinder has scored in consecutive games for the first time since 2006.

Los Angeles' Jonathan Quick may get a chance to bounce back after stopping only 13 of 17 shots against the Predators. Buffalo ranks 29th in the NHL with 1.71 goals per game.

While the Kings have won six of eight at home against the Sabres, they've dropped six of the last eight matchups overall.

In the most recent meeting, Kopitar provided their only scores in a 4-2 home loss Oct. 8, 2011.