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Game 12 Preview: Dethrone The Kings

The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (3-7-1) face off against the Los Angeles Kings (7-3-0) tonight at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. This is the first and only meeting between the two teams this season.

Martin Brodeur and the Devils face the Kings tonight at the Staples Center. Photo Credit: William Perlman/The Star-Ledger

The Last Devils Game: The Devils defeated the Anaheim Ducks, 2-1, last night in Anaheim. The Devils, unable to capitalize on four first period power plays, fell behind 1-0 in the second period. With Jamie Langenbrunner in the box for hooking, Jason Blake attempted to stuff a puck past Martin Brodeur. The Devils goalie stopped Blake’s first attempt, but the left-winger put the rebound home for his second goal of the season.

The Devils would tie the game at 10:39 of the period. Langenbrunner came from behind the net and put a shot on Jonas Hiller from the goal line. The puck caromed off the goalie’s left pad and through his legs for Langenbrunner’s first goal of the season. Patrik Elias scored the game-winning goal at 1:54 of the period. Alexander Vasyunov and Elias broke into the Ducks’ zone, and Elias one-timed a pass from the rookie over the glove of Hiller for his second goal of the season.

The Last Kings Game: The Kings defeated the Dallas Stars, 5-2, on Thursday night. Tied 1-1 after the second period, the Kings scored three straight goals to put them ahead, 4-1. Wayne SimmondsJack Johnson and Willie Mitchell each recorded two points for L.A.·

The Last Devils – Kings Game: The Kings defeated the Devils, 3-2, January 31 at the Prudential Center. Johnny Oduya scored the first goal of the game, lighting the lamp at 4:45 of the first period to put the Devils ahead, 1-0. Travis Zajac scored at 5:56 of the second period to extend the Devils lead to 2-0, but the Kings wouldn’t go quietly into the night.

Michal Handzus cut the lead in half with his goal at 19:31 of the second period. Simmonds pulled the Kings even at 18:19 of the third period. With under a minute left, and Andy Greene in the box for tripping, Drew Doughty fired home a point shot for the game-winning powerplay goal.

For a complete look at the Devils’ complete numbers against the Kings, check out this season preview post.

For the rest of the preview, read after the jump!

A Rude Welcoming: Ilya Kovalchuk returns to L.A. after spurning the Kings this summer. L.A. offered Kovalchuk a 15-year, $80 million dollar contract, and took him on a tour of the city. Kovalchuk, however, picked the Devils, and we know the resulting summer of The Kovalchuk Saga that ensued. You’d have to expect the fans to boo – and boo loudly – when Kovalchuk steps on the ice.

Tonight’s Matchup: The Devils played a good game last night. It wasn’t great, and it left a ton to be worked on, but a win is a win. Right now, the Devils need wins however they can get them.·One thing the team did well last night was win the puck battles. Devils’ coach John MacLean was pleased with that effort.

“I thought we did very well in puck battles,” MacLean said to Rich Chere of The Star-Ledger. “I thought we did (a good job) managing the puck through the neutral zone. I thought we used the boards to our advantage and got the puck deep. Everybody played the game plan. I thought it was a very good team effort.”

The Devils will need to continue that effort tonight. The Kings are better than the Ducks, and the Devils need to make them work for each and every puck. When given opportunities, the Devils need to capitalize. New Jersey struggled again last night with the powerplay, and they have exactly one powerplay goal on the road. L.A. is the fourth-ranked penalty killers in the league, which makes the challenge that much more difficult.

The Devils need to replicate their effort from last night. They need to win puck battles, be aggressive in the offensive zone, and minimize scoring opportunities on the other end. It sounds simple, but for a team that has failed to string together solid performances, it’s easier said than done.

Game-time will be around 11 p.m., and you can catch all the action on MSG Plus or 660 WFAN. Here are the potential line combinations from tonight’s game, based on last night’s lineup:

FORWARDS: Zach Parise – Travis Zajac – Jamie Langenbrunner; Ilya Kovalchuk – Patrik Elias – Alexander Vasyunov; Dainius Zubrus – Jason Arnott – David Clarkson; Rod Pelley – Tim Sestito – Adam Mair

DEFENSEMEN: Colin White – Matt Taormina; Henrik Tallinder – Tyler Eckford; Olivier Magnan-Grenier – Andy Greene

GOALIE: Martin Brodeur; Johan Hedberg

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