Kings, Senators both seeking improvement

The Los Angeles Kings and Ottawa Senators had hoped to see improvement this season. So far, it has been repeat performances of last season.

The Kings and Senators will try to begin stabilizing their seasons when they meet on Thursday night in Ottawa.

The Senators finished with the fewest points in the NHL last season (64) and the Kings had the second-fewest (71).

Ottawa is still looking to string two wins together this season after losing 4-1 at the New York Islanders on Tuesday.

The Kings have dropped five of their past six, leaving both Los Angeles and Ottawa double digits in points behind their respective division leaders.

Los Angeles began a three-game Canadian swing against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday, and the game was tied 1-1 midway through the third period before the Kings surrendered two goals 30 seconds apart in the 3-1 loss.

Kings coach Todd McLellan was more upbeat than usual after the latest loss, telling reporters he was satisfied with how the team tightened up defensively, especially around its own net.

"We're still not perfect, but when you compare what happened (Tuesday) night to maybe games 2 or 3 in the regular season, we're getting better," McLellan said. "Guys are beginning to understand their roles down low."

The Kings remain last in the NHL in save percentage (.863) and goal-against average (4.00), but McLellan mentioned he thought the team's goaltending was getting more consistent.

"Move the needle forward," he said. "We'll play against a good team on Thursday night that's going to cause some headaches as well, but let's keep trying to improve."

The Senators took a 1-0 lead with a short-handed goal at 7:44 of the first period against the Islanders, but couldn't ride the momentum and gave up four straight goals to a team that won its 10th straight game.

"We can learn a lot from the way they play," Senators defenseman Ron Hainsey said of the Islanders.

The Senators welcomed back center Artem Anisimov, who missed five games with a lower-body injury, but he wasn't much of a factor centering a line with Tyler Ennis and Bobby Ryan. The trio didn't account for any points and Anisimov and Ryan finished minus-2.

Ottawa will likely be without rookie right wing Scott Sabourin against the Kings. Sabourin was playing in his 11th NHL game on Saturday night at the Boston Bruins when he collided with another player and was taken off the ice on a stretcher during the 5-2 loss.

He was released from the hospital on Sunday with a fractured nose and returned to Ottawa, where he'll remain under observation by the team's medical staff.

Senators rookie defenseman Erik Brannstrom will likely return to the lineup after serving as a healthy scratch for the first time this season on Tuesday.

Brannstrom, a first-round pick of the Vegas Golden Knights who was traded to Ottawa last February in a deal that sent Mark Stone to Vegas, has one point in 15 NHL games.

Cody Goloubef replaced Brannstrom and delivered four hits while playing 14:42 in his first appearance with Ottawa this season.

Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored the short-handed goal for the Senators on Tuesday, giving them four on the season, tied with the Nashville Pedators and Vegas for the most in the NHL.

--Field Level Media
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