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As pleased as the Los Angeles Kings were with ending a lengthy losing streak their last time out, they'll probably be more satisfied with a victory against a Pacific Division opponent.
The Kings try to make it two in a row on Friday night, when they open a home-and-home series against the rival Phoenix Coyotes at Staples Center.
It was a tough stretch for Los Angeles (14-14-6) during its 0-2-2 slide, particularly at the end. After Friday's 5-0 defeat at Buffalo, the Kings allowed three unanswered third-period goals en route to a 6-4 loss to defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit on Saturday.
Los Angeles conceded 16 goals in those four losses, but turned in a much better defensive effort in a 3-0 victory at Columbus on Tuesday when rookie Jonathan Quick made 24 saves in his first career shutout.
Patrick O'Sullivan had a goal and an assist, while Anze Kopitar added two assists to give him a team-leading 28 points for the Kings, who outshot an opponent for the fifth time in six games as they held a 42-24 advantage on the Blue Jackets.
"We came out and responded to a disappointing game, the way we finished in Detroit and back the game before that in Buffalo," coach Terry Murray told the Kings' official Web site. "The players felt a responsibility to come out with lots of energy and they did."
Murray's squad looks to carry that energy into its matchup with Phoenix (16-14-5), which is three points ahead of Los Angeles in the Pacific. In the teams' first meeting of the season, the Coyotes rallied for a 4-2 home victory on Dec. 2.
Playing away from home, however, continues to be a struggle for Phoenix, which is 5-10-3 on the road. The Coyotes have dropped five of their last six (1-3-2) as visitors and are trying to salvage the final contest of a three-game road swing.
Shane Doan scored twice in the final 4:07 of regulation to help the Coyotes steal a point in an eventual 5-4 overtime loss at Colorado.
Olli Jokinen added a goal and two assists for the Coyotes, who fell to 4-1-3 over their last eight games.
"For us to get the two goals late was huge," said Doan, who leads the Coyotes with 16 goals and 33 points. "Fortunately, we found a way to get one point, it's just disappointing not to get two."
The Coyotes, though, have been racking up points against the Kings lately, winning seven of the last nine (7-1-1) overall, including three of four at Staples Center, where Los Angeles is 3-0-3 in its last six games and 10-6-6 overall.
Doan has 20 goals and 54 points - his most versus any opponent - in 65 all-time games versus Los Angeles, but has never faced Quick. The rookie appears in line for a second straight start with Erik Ersbrerg injured and Jason LaBarbera in a slump.
LaBarbera has a 4.12 goals-against average in losing his last four starts and also has six consecutive losses against the Coyotes since a victory on Oct. 6, 2005.
Phoenix, meanwhile, is likely to again turn to Ilya Bryzgalov, who boasts a 2.24 GAA while going 4-0-3 in his last seven starts. He has a five-game winning streak against the Kings, yielding just seven tallies on 135 shots for a .948 save percentage.