Devin Setoguchi

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Kings’ youth movement continues as prospect Kempe gets recalled

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L.A. is going green.

In the experience department, anyway.

Having jettisoned veteran d-man Tom Gilbert (traded to Washington) and forwards Teddy Purcell and Devin Setoguchi (waivers), the Kings have now recalled Adrian Kempe, their first-round pick from 2014.

Rookie defenseman Paul LaDue, who we wrote about extensively last week, is also back up with the club.

The big story here, though, is Kempe, the Swedish winger taken 29th overall in his draft year. He’s spent each of the last two seasons in AHL Ontario and while his numbers hardly jump off the page — just 11 goals and 19 points in 43 games this season — he’s only 20 years old, and caught the eye of head coach Darryl Sutter.

“With the hockey IQ he has and the speed that he has, the only adjustment is experience,” Sutter said earlier this season, per the L.A. Times. “He’s adjusted to the ice and you can see that. He’s a fun player to watch.”

The Kings are back in action Thursday, when they host Arizona. It’s possible Kempe could make his big league debut, something the 24-year-old LaDue did in a pre-bye week loss to Tampa Bay.

Kempe and LaDue aren’t the only youngsters working their way into the mix.

Another rookie d-man, Kevin Gravel, has appeared in 38 games this year, while Nick Shore (the club’s third-round pick in 2011) and Derek Forbort (first round, ’10) have become lineup regulars.

These changes are in lockstep with what Sutter alluded to upon signing an extension last summer. He said changes were inevitable, and that the organization had to work in a number of its farmhands.

“We have the good fortune now of the players playing in the American League playoffs that we’ve had up and down during the season,” Sutter explained. “They’re good players. That’s how you grow.

“You need those guys to make the same sort of impact that those boys [L.A.’s core players] made on our team. We need two or three of the next group to do it now. That is key for us.”

Waiver wire: Hammond clears and sent to AHL, while Kings waive Setoguchi

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The return of Craig Anderson to the Ottawa Senators lineup on Saturday forced the team to make a roster move involving one of their goalies.

They ended up waiving Andrew Hammond (on his 29th birthday!).

On Sunday the team announced that Hammond went unclaimed on the waiver wire and has since been assigned to the Senators’ AHL team in Binghamton.

It’s been a rough year for Hammond on the rare occasion he has been able to play, but given what he has done over the past two years it seemed reasonable to think that somebody in need of some goaltending depth would have taken a chance on him, even if he does have another year on a contract that pays him more than $1.3 million per season.

While Hammond was going unclaimed, the Los Angeles Kings made a waiver move of their own on Sunday when they waived veteran forward Devin Setoguchi.

Setoguchi was able to make it back to the NHL this season after spending the 2015-16 season playing in Switzerland for Davos HC.

He signed a two-way contract with the Kings over the summer and has been a regular in their lineup for most of the season, appearing in 45 games and recording 12 points (four goals, eight assists).

The Kings ‘don’t have a lot of scoring’ in their lineup, and it’s costing them

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Anze Kopitar scored 25 goals last season. And to boot, he was awarded the Selke Trophy.

Though the Kings’ captain is still playing good defense, with just three goals in 30 games, he’s on pace for the worst goal-scoring campaign of his NHL career. He’s getting shots, but for whatever reason, they’re not going in like they’ve done in the past. (See: Patrice Bergeron.)

Kopitar’s scoring struggles came into full focus last night in Vancouver, where the Kings lost, 2-1, and Kopitar was robbed by Ryan Miller on a brilliant chance.

The Kings were again missing Tyler Toffoli (injured reserve), and combined with Kopitar’s slump, it was perhaps no huge surprise they couldn’t battle back from a 2-0 deficit, even though they outshot the Canucks, 37-20.

“I just think that we don’t have a lot of scoring in our lineup, especially with Tyler out, and if you get down one, you’re fine, but if you get down two, you’re playing a different game then,” said head coach Darryl Sutter, per LA Kings Insider.

L.A.’s leading goal-scorer is Jeff Carter, who has an impressive 19. Toffoli and Tanner Pearson are next, each with eight. Kopitar, as mentioned, has just three; Dustin Brown a mere four; and Marian Gaborik just one in 13 games.

The Kings, of course, did not re-sign Milan Lucic, who scored 20 for them last season. They brought in Devin Setoguchi, but he’s only managed four goals.

Add it up and the Kings have the NHL’s 22nd-ranked offense, and their 17-14-4 record is barely good enough for the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

“We’re getting into a stretch where every game is critical,” Kopitar told the L.A. Times prior to last night’s game. “Not that it wasn’t before, but now it magnifies a little bit because of how tight it is in our division. Now we have four games in a row within our division, so it’s a big stretch for us.”

They already lost the first of those “critical” four. They’re in Edmonton tonight to take on the Oilers, then it’s two games with the Sharks, the first at home Saturday, the second on the road Tuesday.

Related: Marian Gaborik a healthy scratch for Kings

Budaj gets fourth shutout of season for scrappy Kings

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) A road game for Nic Dowd definitely had a home feeling to it.

Peter Budaj made 28 saves and Dowd, a Huntsville, Alabama native, scored to lead the Los Angeles Kings to a 4-0 victory over the Nashville Predators on Thursday night.

Nick Shore, Jeff Carter and Devin Setoguchi also scored for Los Angeles. Playing the sixth of their season-long nine-game road swing, the Kings improved their record to 3-2-1 on the current trip.

Budaj made 12 saves in the first period, nine in the second and seven in the third en route to his fourth shutout of the season and 15th of his career.

“I felt good tonight, I was seeing the puck well,” Budaj said. “The guys were doing a great job blocking shots. It always helps because Nashville is known for getting shots from the point and then trying to jam the net and just try to get the second, third opportunities. We eliminated that.”

Pekka Rinne made 21 saves for Nashville, which had a two-game winning streak come to an end.

“I definitely think that from a consistency standpoint, it needs to be better,” Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said. “Win two, lose two, win two, lose one, win one, lose three – you’re going nowhere in mud really quick. We’ve got to string something together.”

The Kings have not allowed a power-play goal in eight consecutive games. In killing off three Nashville power plays, Los Angeles allowed just three shots on goal in the 6 minutes they were shorthanded.

“We’re limiting the number of penalties that we take, (that) obviously helps, two or three a game,” Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. “We have good centermen that are pretty good penalty killers. There’s no secret to it.”

Shore scored the game’s first goal at 6:33 of the opening period.

Jordan Nolan carried the puck into the low slot and sent a pass to Shore in the right faceoff circle. Shore attempted to pass it back to Nolan, but the puck deflected off the stick of Nashville’s Mike Ribeiro and past Rinne.

The score remained 1-0 into the third, when Dowd and Carter scored 9 seconds apart.

Dowd, who grew up 100 miles south of Nashville, connected from the left faceoff circle at 4:25 with a wrist shot that squeezed just underneath Rinne’s leg pad.

Several of Dowd’s family members made the short trip north to see him play his first-ever NHL game in Nashville.

“Minus the goal, I think just playing here in general, I was just excited to be around my family and get to see them after,” Dowd said. “Very few times all five of them, six of them are going to be able to see me play at once.”

After winning the ensuing faceoff against Ribeiro, Carter carried the puck down the right side and snapped a shot by Rinne for his team-leading 17th goal of the season.

Carter has 25 points in 24 career games against Nashville.

“There are some things we can do better defensively too,” Predators defenseman Roman Josi said. “Like tonight in the third, we definitely left (Rinne) hanging back there, but I think it’s a big thing from the start. We’ve got to go and try to get the first goal and win the game. The game is so much easier when you have that lead, you’re playing with the momentum and everything. We’ve got to make sure we do that.”

Setoguchi connected at 11:39 of the third off a nice pass from Kings captain Anze Kopitar just outside Rinne’s crease.

The assist was Kopitar’s 700th career NHL point.

Notes: Predators D P.K. Subban missed his fourth consecutive game with an upper-body injury. . Nashville C Calle Jarnkrok played in his 200th career NHL game. … Budaj is 9-5-0 in his career against Nashville. . The Kings are 11-1-1 when leading after two periods this season.

UP NEXT:

Kings: Travel to Dallas on Friday

Predators: Face Minnesota at home on Tuesday

Oilers drop their fifth straight, now barely above .500

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LOS ANGELES (AP) The Los Angeles Kings returned to their hard forechecking ways and got a needed win.

Jeff Carter scored the tiebreaking short-handed goal midway through the second period and the Los Angeles Kings beat the Edmonton Oilers 4-2.

Derek Forbort and Tyler Toffoli each had a goal and an assist and Devin Setoguchi and also scored for Los Angeles. Peter Budaj made 26 saves.

After going winless in their last four games on the road, the Kings (8-9-1) returned to Staples Center and found the key piece of their game that had eluded them on the road.

“For us, it’s the read, shutting down and getting in on the forecheck,” Setoguchi said. “When we forecheck well, that’s usually when we create our opportunities.”

Darnell Nurse and Oscar Klefbom scored for the Oilers (9-8-1), who have now lost five straight games to fall to 2-7-1 since starting 7-1-0. Jonas Gustavsson made 21 saves.

Read more: McLellan doesn’t like how much the Oilers rely on McDavid

Oilers coach Todd McLellan said Carter’s short-handed goal hurt the most but Edmonton was ultimately doomed by another slow start.

“It seems to vary from night to night positionally,” McLellan said. “Whether it’s a D-man with a turnover, the forwards coughing something up and not getting in position at the right time. It’s certainly something we’re aware of, we’re concerned with and trying to fix.”

Trailing 2-0 after the first period, the Oilers scored twice in the second to tie it before Carter scored at 9:06 of the middle period.

Nurse made it 2-1 with a shot off the crossbar 3:44 into the second. A little under five minutes later, Klefbom tied it when he caught a pass in the slot and lifted an impressive backhand shot off the crossbar and behind Budaj.

But just 34 seconds later, Carter won a faceoff and Toffoli led a 2-on-1 rush that resulted in Carter’s game-winner.

“We didn’t get the save, but there were other mistakes on it,” McLellan said. “I thought it sucked the life out of us for a little bit.”

Setoguchi scored off a rebound with 6:45 left to play to make it 4-2, his third goal this season and third since the 2013-14.

“I didn’t think we were that good in the first couple of periods,” Setoguchi said. “Then, in the third we had a couple good shifts back-to-back and we were able to score on one.”

Forbort scored his first goal of the season to put the Kings on the board 5:09 into the game. Toffoli then gave Los Angeles a 2-0 lead a few minutes later when he tapped in a centering pass from Carter.

“There was a bunch of traffic down there, (Kyle) Clifford made a good play and I was lucky it went in,” Forbort said. ”