Familiar foes square off in Phoenix
Monday, 11.02.2009 / 7:00 PM
KINGS (8-4-2) at COYOTES (9-4-0)
Last 10: Los Angeles 5-3-2; Phoenix 7-3-0
Season series: This is already the third meeting of the season between the Pacific Division's biggest early success stories. Each team has won on its opponent's home ice: the Coyotes 6-3 at Staples Center on opening night behind a pair of goals by Radim Vrbata, and the Kings 5-3 at Jobing.com Arena just nine days ago as Jarret Stoll and Dustin Brown each scored twice.
Big story: The Coyotes have the best goals-against average in the League at 1.92, but they've compiled it at the expense of teams other than the Kings, who have eight goals in two games against them and rank eighth overall in offense at 3.29 goals per game.
Kings: Despite losing back-to-back 2-1 games in shootouts, Los Angeles is 4-0-2 in its last six. Still, coach Terry Murray would probably prefer that the Kings start taking care of business in the regulation 60 minutes or overtime, rather than let the outcome be decided by the penalty-shot competition.
"It's a useless part of the game, the shootout, but the fans love it," Murray said. "For that, I like it, because the fans are excited. They're standing up and waiting for the next shooter. It is good for the game, but boy, do I hate it."
Coyotes: On the flip side, Phoenix has won both of its shootouts this season, including a 3-2 decision over Anaheim on Saturday that extended its winning streak to three in a row. Goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov made 32 saves and stopped all three shootout attempts by the Ducks as he finished October with eight wins and the Coyotes tied a franchise record with their ninth win of the opening month.
Who's hot: Scott Parse made his NHL debut for Los Angeles in the last game against Phoenix and has three points in four games, including his first goal against Vancouver. Goalie Jonathan Quick has allowed just four goals in his last three starts with a .944 save percentage.
Phoenix forward Vernon Fiddler has a four-game points streak, compiling two goals, five points and a plus-4 rating over that span. Daniel Winnik has a goal, five points and a plus-4 rating in a four-game points streak of his own. Bryzgalov is coming off his third shutout of the season, which already ties his career high.
Injury report: The Kings hope to get top-line forward Justin Williams (nine points in nine games) back from a lower-body injury. The Coyotes remain without defenseman Kurt Sauer (head).
Stat pack: Phoenix captain Shane Doan scored twice in the last meeting with Los Angeles and has put up career numbers of 25 goals and 60 points in 72 games against the Kings. In the Coyotes' first six home games, the Kings are the only opponent to have managed more than two goals.
Puck drop: Neither of these clubs has sniffed the postseason since 2002, but each racked up 18 points in October to place in the top five in the Western Conference. They don't face each other again until mid-December, and only twice more after that, but each one is a potential four-point swing in the standings.
-- Brian Hunter, NHL.com