Los Angeles Kings vs. Buffalo Sabres Pick & Prediction JANUARY 24th 2024

Amid a tough stretch, the Los Angeles Kings will try to bounce back when they host the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday.

The Kings have dropped 11 of their past 13 games, going 2-6-5 in that stretch. Most recently, they dropped a 4-3 shootout to the cellar-dwelling San Jose Sharks on Monday, a game in which they trailed 2-0 and 3-2 before pulling even twice.

After winning four of five Dec. 16-27, Los Angeles lost eight in a row (0-4-4) from Dec. 28 to Jan. 13. Before the skid, the Kings were five points behind the Vancouver Canucks for the top spot in the Pacific Division. Now they find themselves 15 points back of Vancouver, which remains atop the division.

“Big picture says that we’ve done some good things,” Los Angeles coach Todd McLellan said. “We had a really good start and we’ve fallen off a little bit for different reasons. Small picture is we’re in (a slump) right now and it’s tense. So, we can use the big picture to remind of what they’ve done in the past and we can use the small picture to push them a little bit and say we’ve got to get it done.”

Offense has been a struggle during the Kings’ slide. Los Angeles is averaging 2.23 goals per game since Dec. 28, well off the team’s season-long average of 3.18.

One area of positivity has been the line of Phillip Danault between Trevor Moore and Kevin Fiala. Since the three were reunited eight games ago, Fiala has one goal and seven assists, Moore has four goals and three assists and Danault has two goals and five assists.

“They’re our most consistent line right now — I think that’s easy for everyone to see,” McLellan said. “They’re not giving up a lot; they are creating a lot. It’s not going in the net regularly, but no shortage of chances. They’re a line we feel we can count on.”

The Sabres will look to rebound after a 4-2 loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday. They trailed 3-0 after two periods before pulling within one with a pair of goals 2 1/2 minutes apart in the final six minutes.

After a fairly even first period, Buffalo gave up two goals 53 seconds apart while getting outshot 19-6 in the second.

“We have to do a better job of realizing where we’re at and what we need,” Sabres captain Kyle Okposo said. “We obviously didn’t feel good, but when you don’t feel good, you have to do the little things correctly so you’re in the right positions, and we just … wanted it easy.

“When you want it easy and the other team starts to feel good, it’s going to be a long night, and it was a long second period, that’s for sure.”

The Sabres have lost two in a row after winning five of their previous seven. Consistency from game to game and within games has been a season-long issue for Buffalo. The Sabres have allowed an NHL-worst 57 goals in the first period and are 4-20-3 when the opponent scores first.

“It’s a confidence thing,” Buffalo coach Don Granato said. “You lose your confidence, and that’s on you. You’ve got to find a way to fight through that.”

Sabres center Dylan Cozens has two goals and two assists in his past five games after posting no goals and two assists in his previous eight.

–Field Level Media

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