HURRICANES (26-24-9) at KINGS (33-22-6)
TV: SPSO, FS-W
Last 10: Carolina 5-5-0; Los Angeles 4-6-0
Season series: The Carolina Hurricanes and Los Angeles Kings are playing for the final time this season; Los Angeles won 2-1 in shootout in Raleigh, N.C., on Oct. 11. Carolina is making its first visit to Staples Center since Oct. 20, 2010.
Big story: Each team had hopes for a fast start on the road after the Olympic break, but only the Kings have turned those hopes into reality. L.A. is home after sweeping a two-game trip against the Colorado Avalanche and Calgary Flames on back-to-back nights. Carolina flew to Los Angeles after starting a five-game trip with losses to the Buffalo Sabres and Dallas Stars that dropped the Hurricanes seven points off the pace in the race for the final wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference.
Hurricanes: Expect coach Kirk Muller to have his team ready to go from the opening faceoff against the Kings. That wasn't the case Thursday in Dallas, where a slow start left Carolina down 2-0 before the game was seven minutes old. The power play went 0-for-5 and allowed two shorthanded goals in a 4-1 loss.
"For whatever reason we didn’t have enough guys ready to go to start this game," Muller said.
This game begins a stretch of three in four days in California against three of the top teams in the Western Conference.
Kings: Los Angeles won twice in two nights in entirely different ways. The goal-starved Kings overcame a 4-2 deficit to defeat the Avalanche 6-4, then shut down the Flames in a more-typical 2-0 victory.
It was a big turnaround for the Kings, who lost eight of their final 10 games before the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
"We realize we weren't playing good hockey going into the break," defenseman Robyn Regehr told the Los Angeles Times. "And it was really nice to get away from the rink and the game for an extended period of time and come back refreshed."
Who's hot: Hurricanes captain Eric Staal had the goal in Dallas and has scored in each game since the break. … Kings center Anze Kopitar has seven points in his past four games.
Injury report: Hurricanes forward Alexander Semin (lower body) left the game in Dallas and is questionable. … The Kings report no injuries.
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