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Kings Return To Southern California To Battle Ducks At Honda Center

(Sports Network) - Coming off the first regulation setback of a 10-game road trip, the Los Angeles Kings hope to cap the swing with a victory over the Anaheim Ducks this evening at the Honda Center. The Kings won five of the first eight games of the road trip while also losing a pair of shootouts and an overtime decision since their last home game on Jan. 26. However, they failed to earn a point on Saturday thanks to a 3-0 setback to the New York Islanders.

Jonathan Quick made 20 saves in Los Angeles' second straight loss, one that brought its club record-tying 11-game point streak (8-0-3) to an end. The run matched the previous mark set from Feb. 28-March 24, 1974. "It's hard to sit here and be happy with how we played tonight," said Kings forward Dustin Brown. "But, we get home, we get some rest, we get ready for Anaheim."

The Kings and Ducks are two of the four teams tied for the last playoff spot in the Western Conference with 68 points. That also has the clubs seven points back of first-place Phoenix in the Pacific Division. Coming off their fifth shutout loss of the season, the Kings' offense could get a boost tonight with the return of forward Marco Sturm, who has been on injured reserve since Jan. 20 due to knee tendinitis. Sturm has four goals and four assists in 15 games this year after being acquired from Boston and is expected to skate with Anze Kopitar and Wayne Simmonds on the first line tonight.

"It feels good," Sturm told Los Angeles' website of his knee on Monday. "Today's practice, well, it obviously feels better when you're on the top line there. But it feels good, it feels stronger. So hopefully it stays like this after I get some games in." Los Angeles will host Minnesota on Thursday and is 15-14-3 on the road this year.

While the Kings are nearing a return home, the Ducks kick off a seven-game residency this evening and will play 10 of their next 12 at the Honda Center. Anaheim has been outscored 21-10 over a three-game losing streak that follows four wins in a row. Though they took an early lead on Saturday versus the Blues, the Ducks ended up dropping a 9-3 decision.

Jarkko Ruutu scored in his Anaheim debut after being acquired from the Senators on Thursday, while Teemu Selanne and Ryan Getzlaf also scored. "We're just not playing our caliber of hockey," Getzlaf said. "This is another game where we just weren't ready to play ... It's frustrating."

Neither Curtis McElhinney or Timo Pielmeier had success on Saturday, McElhinney started and gave up four goals on 11 shots, while Pielmeier yielded five goals on 12 shots over the final 40 minutes. It is unknown who will start tonight, but it likely won't be Jonas Hiller. Anaheim's No. 1 goaltender has played just once in the past seven games due to a pair of bouts with lightheadedness and fatigue. He did not practice on Monday and remains on injured reserve.

The Ducks are 17-9-1 at home this year and have won seven of their last 10 as the host over the Kings. That includes a 2-0 win on Nov. 29 thanks to Hiller's 27-save shutout, but Los Angeles got revenge with a 4-1 home win on Dec. 26 that was the Kings' seventh victory in their last 10 overall versus the Ducks. Ducks forward Saku Koivu is a game-time decision for tonight due to a groin injury that held him out of practice on Tuesday.

For more information on tonight's game, be sure to read Jewels From The Crown and Anaheim Calling.