Kings vs. Blue Jackets Preview

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COLUMBUS, OH (AP) - The Los Angeles Kings got off to a strong start on a critical road trip.

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They'll look for a second straight win Friday night when they try to hand the slumping Columbus Blue Jackets a seventh loss in a row.

Los Angeles (37-25-5) entered this four-game trip with losses in three of four games, but put together a solid performance in a 2-1 win at Detroit on Wednesday. The Kings were outshot 11-3 in the first period before Anze Kopitar and Alexei Ponikarovsky scored in the second, and Jonathan Quick stopped all 18 shots over the final 40 minutes.

According to NHL odds and oddsmakers from online sports book have made the Kings -115 money line favorites for Friday's game against the Blue Jackets. Current NHL Public Betting Information shows that 66% of more than 60 bets for this game have been placed on the Kings -115.

"We played a great second period. I think we outplayed them and got chances and scored two big goals," Quick said. "You could tell it was really hard for them to get through the neutral zone. It was hard on them."

The Kings have 79 points in the crowded Western Conference race, and have 15 games left to gain a second straight playoff berth.

"We've got to keep on it," Quick told the Kings' official website. "We've got to keep pushing here, to make sure we're in that top eight at the end of the year."

Los Angeles has totaled seven goals over its last four games, but may be able to get untracked against Columbus (31-26-9). The Kings have won five of the last six meetings by outscoring the Blue Jackets 28-15.

Quick is 5-1-0 with a 2.31 goals-against average in his last six starts against the Blue Jackets while backup Jonathan Bernier has never started against them.

Columbus has picked a terrible time for its longest skid since a nine-game slide Dec. 10-26, 2009. Every loss has been by one goal aside from a 4-2 defeat at Edmonton last Thursday in which the Oilers had an empty-net tally.

The Blue Jackets fell 5-4 in a shootout at St. Louis on Monday and blew a three-goal lead in a 4-3 overtime home loss to the Blues on Wednesday. Captain Rick Nash's goalless streak has reached seven games.

"For about 33 minutes we did everything we wanted to do - we played hard, created chances, had some opportunities and scored some goals," coach Scott Arniel said Wednesday. "For the remaining 27 minutes, we stopped playing. We made lots of mistakes. We got careless and got away from what we were doing right in the first half of the game."

Derick Brassard returned Wednesday for his first action after missing eight games with an injured hand. Brassard had an assist, and is fourth on the team with 40 points.

"He did a lot of good things and he skated very well," Arniel said. "He had some good chances himself."

Neither Columbus goalie is playing well. Steve Mason is 0-2-2 with a 3.44 GAA in his last four starts and backup Mathieu Garon is 0-1-2 with a 3.26 GAA in his last three.

Kopitar has five goals and five assists during an eight-game point streak against the Blue Jackets while defenseman Drew Doughty has 10 points in a six-game run against them.

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