COYOTES (18-11-1) at KINGS (19-10-3)
Last 10 --
Phoenix 7-2-1; Los Angeles 6-3-1
Season series --
The teams are meeting for the fourth time this season. The road team has won the first three games: Phoenix beat the Kings 6-3 at the Staples Center on opening night, while the Kings won 5-3 decisions at Jobing.com on Oct. 24 and Nov. 2. The teams play again in Glendale, Ariz., on Boxing Day (Dec. 26) and then don't see each other until April 8.
Big story --
Two of the NHL's hottest teams are meeting at the Staples Center. The Coyotes have won five in a row, while the Kings are 5-0-1 in their last six games, including a 5-4 overtime victory at San Jose on Wednesday. The Coyotes' last game was a 2-0 home victory over Minnesota on Monday night.
Hockey is fun again in the desert, where the Coyotes are on a surprising roll.
“It’s fun to win,” coach Dave Tippett told a larger-than-usual media contingent on Wednesday. “But I like the process of building a group and seeing the success not just of individuals but of a group coming together. It’s very satisfying. So is that fun? Yeah, it’s fun. I’m having fun. So far, we’re having fun.”
But Tippett has no illusions about how hard it's going to be to stay hot with games against the Kings and Sharks -- the two teams above them in the Pacific Division standings -- in the next three days.
“L.A. and San Jose are both very good hockey teams,” Tippett said. “Very good hockey teams. So that creates challenges. But … with our group, we feel like we can overcome those challenges if we do things right.”
The Kings are off to their best start in 10 years and continued their surge by winning 5-4 in OT at San Jose 5-4 on Wednesday night. Dustin Brown
ended a 14-game goal drought by scoring the game-winner in overtime. Top scorer Anze Kopitar
also broke out of a long slump with his first goal in 14 games, and Teddy Purcell got his first in 27 games.
Who’s hot --
Ilya Bryzgalov has been the biggest reason for the Coyotes' success. He's been in goal for all five games during the winning streak and has allowed just seven goals. Taylor Pyatt
has goals in the Coyotes' last three games. … The Kings are getting good production from their young defensemen: Drew Doughty
is 2-2-4 in his last five games and Jack Johnson
is 1-4-5 in that span.
Injury report --
Phoenix will be without suspended defenseman Ed Jovanovski, arguably their best blueliner, for the next two games. Los Angeles is still without forward Ryan Smyth (upper-body). Brandon Segal and Andrei Loktionov
are both on IR.
Stat pack --
Phoenix has scored all 15 goals during its winning streak at even strength. The Coyotes are 0-for-18 on the power play during the five games -- but have killed 19 of 21 opposition power plays. … Los Angeles is 7-1-1 against the Pacific Division, with the opening-night loss to the Coyotes the only time the Kings have been beaten in regulation.
Puck drop --
There hasn't been a lot of winning in Phoenix in recent years, and Tippett knows that for his team to continue to succeed, his players can't sit back and enjoy what they've accomplished so far.
"You recognize what you're doing when you're having success," he said Wednesday, "but every day is a new day and you're only as good as your last game."