Kings, Jackets face off in matchup of teams on the upswing

NHL Hockey
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The Columbus Blue Jackets and Los Angeles Kings face a steep climb to get near the top of their respective divisions, but they’ve taken some small steps lately.

The Blue Jackets and Kings will try to maintain their upward momentum when they meet on Thursday night in Columbus, Ohio.

The Kings are 4-0-1 in their past five games following a 4-3 overtime win at the Boston Bruins on Tuesday night.

Los Angeles tied the score with 2:01 left in the third period before Anze Kopitar won it at 3:23 of overtime, allowing the Kings to escape last place in the Pacific Division.

“The fact that we have developed some resiliency within the locker room, that’s a real good sign, but it doesn’t surprise me that it’s in there,” Kings coach Todd McLellan told reporters. “It’s a trait that’s been a part of this organization for a long time, and every now and then it rears its head.”

Columbus is 3-0-2 in its past five games.

A 5-3 win against the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday night pulled the Blue Jackets within two points of the New York Rangers for sixth place in the Metropolitan Division.

That win was tempered by the loss of defenseman Andrew Peeke, who is believed to have sustained a broken right hand while blocking a shot in the first period.

The Blue Jackets already played the past two games without left winger Sonny Milano, right winger Josh Anderson and defenseman Ryan Murray, each of whom sustained upper-body injuries in a 4-3 overtime loss against the Ottawa Senators on Saturday.

Blue Jackets center Emil Bemstrom was placed on injured reserve on Sunday with an upper-body injury.

“We don’t spend a lot of time talking or thinking about the injures. It just gives other guys more opportunities in situations that maybe they wouldn’t be put in,” Columbus coach John Tortorella said. “When you have the amount of injuries that we have now, your team is going to be better when guys start coming back healthy.”

Both teams have been receiving strong play from their No. 1 goalies.

Jonathan Quick made 37 saves against the Atlantic Division-leading Bruins after allowing two goals or fewer in four of his previous five starts.

“He’s been great for us, especially these last five, six, seven games,” Kings forward Blake Lizotte said. “It’s huge for our confidence having him back there, and even (backup goalie) Jack Campbell. When he’s played, he’s played stellar. On the back end, it’s great having two goalies like that.”

Joonas Korpisalo shut out the Washington Capitals on 30 saves on Monday before making 18 saves in the win over the Red Wings.

His next start will be the 27th of the season, his most since he started 30 games as a rookie with the Blue Jackets in 2015-16.

Tortorella said he and the front office are fully aware of Korpisalo’s increased workload.

“I have to monitor it, but we have to watch it in a way, can he handle it, too.” Tortorella said. “We think he has progressed well, but we have to see if he can play the games. If you’re looking at a starter, you’re looking at 53 to 60 games (a season) in that area there. We have to see if he can do that.”

–Field Level Media

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