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Alec Martinez, Alexei Ponikarovsky back in Kings' lineup

Defenseman Alec Martinez, who missed practice Wednesday because he was ill with the stomach flu, took part in Thursday’s morning skate and said he will play against the Flames Thursday night at Staples Center.

Martinez, called up from Manchester of the American Hockey League on Nov. 23, has enjoyed a bit of fame within the locker room because he leads the team’s vaunted defense corps with two — count 'em two — goals. He has also played reasonably well defensively and is plus-one in five games.

“I feel good today,” he said. “I got a lot of rest [Wednesday] and pretty much slept the whole time, drank a lot of Gatorade. I’m ready to go.”

Left wing Alexei Ponikarovsky will return, as projected over the past few days; he was officially activated off injured reserve after the morning skate. The Kings had space on the roster and didn't have to make any other moves to accommodate his return.

Ponikarovsky will rejoin his former linemates, Michal  Handzus and Wayne Simmonds, though he might not resume his old penalty-killing duties right away.

The Kings’ penalty-killing remains perfect at Staples Center, at 43 for 43. They’re the only NHL team that hasn’t yielded a power-play goal at home.

“I’m going to watch that one closely and see how he’s doing in the first few shifts,” Coach Terry Murray said. “I like our penalty-killing the way it’s set up right now.

“He will get back in because he was a good penalty-killer for us. Whether we use him tonight or not, I’m not sure. But he finished off before the injury as an important part of that.”

More later at www.latimes.com/sports

-- Helene Elliott 

 
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