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Kings, Islanders look to halt mini-slumps

NEW YORK -- A pair of weary teams slumping for different reasons will face off Saturday night when the New York Islanders host the Los Angeles Kings at Barclays Center.

Both squads enter Saturday on two-game losing streaks. The Islanders were off Friday after suffering a wild 6-4 loss to the host Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday. The Kings opened a back-to-back set Friday by falling to the New York Rangers 4-2 in the second game of a four-game East Coast road trip.

The two-game skid for the Kings (20-10-3) comes immediately after an eight-game winning streak that was tied for the second-longest run in franchise history. But even when it was winning, Los Angeles was having trouble putting pucks in the net.

The Kings scored more than four goals just twice during their winning streak and have scored three or fewer goals 20 times this season. But Los Angeles had no shortage of opportunities Friday, when it peppered Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist with 35 shots.

"We just couldn't find the net," Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said. "It's a frustrating loss."

The Islanders (17-12-3), on the other hand, are scoring plenty of goals but allowing nearly as many. Through Friday, New York ranked second in the NHL in both goals scored (114) and goals allowed (111).

On Thursday, the Islanders came back from a 3-0 deficit to tie Columbus before giving up two goals in a span of under three minutes late in the second period. The struggles on defense have been a key factor in a 2-5-1 slide in which New York has surrendered at least five goals four times.

"We've proven we're going to score goals and have opportunities -- that's a good thing," Islanders head coach Doug Weight told Newsday following practice Friday. "To me we need some more meat and potatoes. We need more predictability, we need more mash."

With that in mind, New York sent electric yet inconsistent center Josh Ho-Sang to Bridgeport of the American Hockey League on Friday. The club promoted right winger Steve Bernier in a corresponding move.

Weight said Friday he didn't know who would start in goal Saturday night. Thomas Greiss started for just the second time in the last 10 games Thursday, recording 29 saves. Still, that was an improvement over Jaroslav Halak, who made his fourth straight start Wednesday but was pulled for Greiss in the second period after allowing four goals on 20 shots.

Kings backup Darcy Kuemper, who has also started just two of the last 10 games behind Jonathan Quick, will likely start Saturday after Quick made 24 saves Friday. Kuemper last played Dec. 7, when he recorded 37 saves in Los Angeles' 4-3 overtime win over the Ottawa Senators.

Greiss is 3-3-0 in seven career games against the Kings while Halak is 6-10-2 in 18 appearances. Kuemper is 1-1-0 in three career appearances against the Islanders.

Kuemper outdueled Halak and earned the win in the first meeting of the season between the teams on Oct. 15, when the Kings edged the Islanders 3-2 at Staples Center.

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