Tonight marks the third of five meetings with the Coyotes this season and the first of three at Arizona’s Gila River Arena. Arizona is playing the final of a six-game home stand where they’ve gone 3-1-1 thus far, they’re coming off of a 3-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday night. The Kings are playing the first of a four-game road trip tonight, they’re coming off of a 5-3 loss to the San Jose Sharks Tuesday night.
MERSCH IN THE MIX: Michael Mersch, who was assigned to the Ontario Reign on Wednesday, was recalled early Saturday, and will be in tonight’s lineup in Arizona. Mersch’s assignment was purely for economical reasons, Kings’ vice president of hockey operations Jeff Solomon saving some cap space during the three-day holiday break. Mersch has played in each of the last six games for the Kings, and is expected to play on the fourth line tonight.
LINEUP: The Kings held a morning skate at Gila River Arena in anticipation of tonight’s game. No changes in lines are expected to be made from Tuesday night’s game against San Jose. Derek Forbort and Jordan Weal are expected to be tonight’s healthy scratches, while Jonathan Quick, who left the ice first, is presumed to start in net. Dwight King (IR) skated with the team as an extra.
LUCIC – KOPITAR – GABORIK
PEARSON – CARTER – TOFFOLI
LEWIS – SHORE – BROWN
MERSCH – ANDREOFF – NOLAN
MCNABB – DOUGHTY
MUZZIN – MARTINEZ
EHRHOFF – MCBAIN
HEY, LOUIS: With Mike Smith out long-term to recover from core muscle surgery, Louis Domingue will make his seventh-career NHL start tonight, and his first against the Kings. Domingue, in two starts and three appearances this season, comes into the night with a 2-1-0 record with a .946 SV% and a 1.62 GAA. Can the Kings be successful in their first look at the Coyotes’ young goaltender tonight?
THE LAST TIME AROUND: The Kings have dropped both of their games against the Coyotes this season, losing 4-1 on October 9 and 3-2 on November 10 – both games at STAPLES Center. Martin Hanzal , who has been an issue for the Kings this season, will be out of the lineup tonight. The Coyotes’ forward has racked up four points (2G, 2A) in the two meetings against the Kings thus far. Tyler Toffoli has scored a goal in each of the Kings’ two games against Arizona this season.
PACIFIC POWER: The Kings, holding a six-point lead over the San Jose Sharks for the Pacific Division lead, are playing the second of five-straight intra-division games tonight. The Coyotes have torn apart Pacific opponents this season, going 7-1-0 in eight games, where they’ve earned 14 of their 34 points in the standings. The Kings are 4-5-0 against division opponents this season, can they maintain their gap atop the grouping with a win tonight?
STRUGGLES IN GLENDALE: The Kings have had troubles at Gila River Arena in recent regular season visits, posting only a pair of wins in Glendale dating back to October, 2011. Since then, the Kings are 2-4-3 on the road against the Coyotes. The Kings, though, won in their previous visit to Arizona, a 4-0 victory on December 4, 2014. Dustin Brown, who scored the first of his two goals this season against the Coyotes, scored a pair in the Kings’ previous visit to Arizona; can he find the net tonight?
WE’RE DOING IT LIVE: Catch the ‘Kings Live’ pregame show at 5:30 PM PST on Fox Sports West, followed with Bob and Jim on the live play-by-play call from Gila River Arena for puck drop just after 6:00. As always, you can listen to Nick Nickson and Daryl Evans call the action over the radio airwaves on AM 790 KABC.