Jackets’ Elvis Merzlikins moves to starter, will face Kings

Jackets’ Elvis Merzlikins moves to starter, will face Kings

The Los Angeles Kings and Columbus Blue Jackets have faced challenges at the goaltender position this season.The Kings may have found a temporary solution to their problems heading into their matchup at the Blue Jackets on Sunday while Columbus continues to face issues.The Blue Jackets, who came into Saturday with the second-worst goals-against average in the NHL (4.00) and fourth-worst save percentage (.890), learned on Saturday that Joonas Korpisalo will be out 1-2 weeks with a lower-body injury sustained in a 3-1 win against the Calgary Flames on Friday.That makes Elvis Merzlikins the clear-cut No. 1 goalie in Columbus, and he’s experiencing his worst season in the NHL, owning a 4.82 GAA and .862 save percentage.Columbus coach Brad Larsen is confident Merzlikins can hold down the fort.He allowed just one goal in relief of Korpisalo on Friday after surrendering six against the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday while playing a little more than half the game. A night earlier, Merzlikins gave up four goals in a 4-1 loss at the Pittsburgh Penguins.”Elvis was good (Tuesday) in Pittsburgh,” Larsen said. “It didn’t go too well last game (against Buffalo), but that’s the frustrating part for him because I thought, even in Pitt, he was pretty good for us.”Merzlikins has made three starts against Los Angeles in his career and is 1-1-1 with a 2.63 GAA and .932 save percentage.The Kings became so impatient with their goaltending situation that they put Cal Petersen on waivers on Dec. 1 and recalled 30-year-old journeyman Pheonix Copley.Copley has won his first two starts for Los Angeles, including a 20-save performance in a 4-2 win at the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night.The win helped erase a miserable performance on Thursday, when the Kings were shut out for the first time this season, 5-0 at the Toronto Maple Leafs.Kings coach Todd McLellan said winning the opener of the back-to-back on Saturday won’t make the task any easier on Sunday.

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