Apart from rookie defenseman Sean Durzi’s mashed potato volcano prowess, few of the Kings boasted about their Thanksgiving cooking skills. But on their backburner, the Ottawa Senators awaited ahead of an afternoon affair on Saturday at Staples Center.
The game represents a prime opportunity for the Kings to break the cycle of defeat that has seen them drop five straight games, one loss shy of their season-high six-game skid. This is their fourth consecutive season with at least two five-game winless streaks, but they have plenty of runway before they hit the 10-game slump that they stumbled through in 2018-19.
Ottawa has the NHL’s worst point total with nine entering Friday’s game against the Ducks. That offers little guarantee for the Kings, who lost to the only team with a worse points percentage than Ottawa, the Arizona Coyotes, during the Kings’ current winless homestand. The Kings did shut out the Senators, 2-0, on Nov. 11 in Ottawa despite a superb effort from Sens defenseman Thomas Chabot.
That was the last game that the Kings won and the last one in which No. 2 center Phillip Danault recorded a point, going scoreless with a minus-five rating in his last five contests.
Top-line center Anze Kopitar hasn’t been much more prolific over that span. He has not scored a goal since that victory over Ottawa, in which he had one of his two goals since Oct. 22. He has turned in just two secondary assists and a minus-seven rating across the Kings’ string of five losses. Kopitar was minus-three against Toronto on Wednesday and was involved centrally in two goals against.
Winger Dustin Brown is pointless in his last seven games and hasn’t scored a goal since Oct. 23, having tallied only twice this season.
Even the Kings’ impromptu top defensive pairing, Alex Edler and Matt Roy, was touched up for a combined minus-three rating against Toronto. They had racked up three assists and a plus-three rating even as the Kings lost four straight.
“Let’s hope it’s a one-off. We won’t know until we play the next one,” Kings Coach Todd McLellan said of his team’s 6-2 shelling by Toronto.
In that game, Durzi made his NHL debut, contributing an assist and a goal, both on the power play. Durzi shoots right-handed, giving the Kings better balance for the first time since right-shooting Drew Doughty and Sean Walker were injured. They had been playing five left-shooting defenseman, though it had not impacted them significantly on breakouts.
McLellan said his coaches liked what they saw from Durzi.
“I thought that Durz did what he was supposed to do offensively; he was real good on the power play,” McLellan said. “It’s a tough game to play when the team is not good around you in your first one.”
Ottawa entered its back-to-back set in Southern California having lost three straight games and in porous fashion, surrendering 17 goals across three losses.
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With half a dozen players injured on the COVID protocol-related absence list, the Sens are actually healthier than when they had nine players in protocol along with two long-term injuries the last time these teams met. In that game, defenseman Erik Brannstrom broke his hand blocking a shot, and will not return until January.
Leading scorer Drake Batherson remains in COVID protocol and won’t be back until Dec. 1. Center Joshua Norris and team captain Brady Tkachuk are Nos. 2 and 3 in scoring on the Sens.
Chabot has anchored their defense. The Sens are still waiting for a breakout stretch from second-year center Tim Stuztle. He, Alexis Lafreniere of the New York Rangers and the Kings’ Quinton Byfield were the top three picks in the 2020 draft, but none of them have had an immediate impact as stars, though Stutzle has been the most productive of the three forwards.
OTTAWA AT KINGS

When: Saturday, 4 p.m.
Where: Staples Center
TV/Radio: Bally Sports West/iHeartRadio


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