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Team being cautious with injured Kopitar

Times Staff Writer

The Kings probably will be without rookie center Anze Kopitar for another two weeks as he tries to strengthen an injured lower back.

Kopitar has seen two back specialists since suffering the injury at the end of practice on Feb. 27. He has sat out five games thus far.

“They have put him on a strengthening program, but he is still not functioning at 100%,” Coach Mark Crawford said. “They don’t believe it is anything serious. Obviously, we’re going to be patient with this.”

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Kopitar, 19, ranks third among rookies with 56 points, while logging 20 minutes a game as the Kings’ top center.

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The Kings also will be without Derek Armstrong, who Crawford said suffered a minor strain in his left knee Friday against the Detroit Red Wings. He was expected to be out at least a week.

That left the Kings short on centers, so they recalled Gabe Gauthier from Manchester (N.H.), their minor league team. Gauthier, who was signed as a free agent last summer, was born and raised in Buena Park. He helped the University of Denver win the NCAA title in 2003-04.

Gauthier had 13 goals and 32 points in 56 games at Manchester.

“He’s probably not ready for the NHL, but it’s a good opportunity for him to see what it takes,” Crawford said. “Maybe he’ll play the game of his life.”

The Kings re-assigned defenseman Peter Harrold to Manchester.

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TODAY

at Dallas, 12:30 PDT, FSN West

Site -- American Airlines Center.

Radio -- 1150.

Records -- Kings 22-34-12, Stars 39-23-5.

Record vs. Stars -- 0-5-1.

Update -- This will be the Kings’ first look at Mattias Norstrom, their former captain, in a Stars uniform. Norstrom was traded to Dallas on Feb. 27.

chris.foster@latimes.com


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