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Two teams heading in different directions the past four weeks will meet Saturday afternoon when the Los Angeles Kings host the St. Louis Blues at Staples Center.
The Kings (37-25-5) are 7-3-0 since Feb. 17, keeping them in the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference entering Friday, one point behind the Anaheim Ducks for third in the Pacific Division and two points behind the second-place San Jose Sharks.
The Blues (35-27-5) are an NHL-worst 1-7-2 since Feb. 11, scoring two goals or fewer eight times.
St. Louis enters Friday four points behind the Kings for the final wild-card spot into the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Blues were third in the Central Division before their 10-game skid, six points ahead of Los Angeles.
St. Louis received more bad news this week when goaltender Carter Hutton came down with a sore neck before the game at the Sharks on Thursday. Jake Allen stepped into the starting lineup and local goalie Ben Wexler was signed as a late backup.
Kings goalie Jonathan Quick struggled while posting a 2-6-0 record and .894 save percentage in January, but has regained his strength and touch over the past three weeks, posting a 5-3-0 record in that span and allowing two goals or less in six of those games.
Los Angeles is also the healthiest it has been all season.
Jeff Carter returned from a 55-game absence after having surgery to repair a deep cut on his calf and has four goals in six games, including a goal and an assist in a 3-1 win against the visiting Washington Capitals on Thursday. Trevor Lewis returned against the Capitals after missing 12 games with an upper-body injury and also scored in the win to increase his career-high total to 14.
“It’s the first time we’ve had everyone healthy,” Los Angeles forward Tanner Pearson said. “We look to have a good stretch going down here and string some wins together and keep staying in the playoffs.”
Pearson has a goal and two assists in the two games against St. Louis this season, a 4-2 loss on Oct. 30 and a 4-1 win on Dec. 1, both in St. Louis. He also has two goals and an assist in a current three-game point streak.