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Kings, in need of points, host struggling Coyotes

by Alex Kinkopf / Los Angeles Kings



COYOTES (21-40-8) at KINGS (33-22-13)

7:30PM PT, TV: FOX SPORTS WEST; RADIO: AM 790 KABC

COYOTE FINALE: Tonight marks the fourth and final meeting with the Coyotes this season; the Kings are 2-0-1 in their three meetings against Arizona. The Coyotes are on a one-game road trip; they’ve lost their last four games, and are coming off of a 4-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils on Saturday night. The Kings are finishing their two-game home stand tonight; they’re coming off of a 2-1 loss to the Nashville Predators on Saturday night.

ARIZONA STRUGGLES: The Coyotes have had a rather difficult season; they come into the night with the third-worst record in the NHL, sitting only above the Buffalo Sabres and Edmonton Oilers with 50 points. The Coyotes are 2-14-2 in their previous 18 games, both wins during that span coming in a shootout. The Kings have earned five of a possible six points in their three meetings with Arizona this season, can they pocket another two tonight in their final game against the Coyotes this season?

LINEUP NOTES: Jarret Stoll will sit out his second straight game with an undisclosed upper-body injury. Jonathan Quick left the ice first at today’s morning skate and is expected to start. Alec Martinez and Tanner Pearson continue to slowly recover from their injuries, but there is no timetable on their returns. Per Jon Rosen, who attended the Kings’ morning skate, here’s how tonight’s line combinations should pan out:

GABORIK – KOPITAR – BROWN
LEWIS – CARTER – TOFFOLI
KING – SHORE – WILLIAMS
CLIFFORD – ANDREOFF – NOLAN
(STOLL)
-----------------------
REGEHR – DOUGHTY
MUZZIN – GREENE
MCNABB – SEKERA
(MARTINEZ - MCBAIN)

PLAYOFF PICTURE: Tonight’s contest presents another huge two points for the taking, as the Kings find themselves outside of the Western Conference’s playoff picture. With 79 points, the Kings are one point behind the Winnipeg Jets for the second and final wild-card spot. The Kings are two points behind the Calgary Flames for the Pacific Division’s third seed, and three points behind the Vancouver Canucks for second in the Pacific. Can the Kings keep pace in the standings with a win tonight?

SMITH APPROACH: The Coyotes have struggled with their goaltending ever since trading Devan Dubnyk to the Minnesota Wild on January 14. Dubnyk started two of the Coyotes’ three games against the Kings this season before being dealt, and filled in for relief of Mike Smith in the other meeting. Smith has dropped 12 of his last 13 decisions, and comes into the night with a 11-34-5 record, posting a .898 SV% and a 3.24 GAA. It is unclear whether or not Smith will start tonight; rookie goaltender Louis Domingue has served as Smith’s backup since the Dubnyk trade, but has only started two games.

Monday.

A photo posted by Sarah McLellan (@sarah_mclellan) on

THE LAST TIME AROUND: In the Coyotes’ previous visit to STAPLES Center on December 20, the Kings came away with a 4-2 victory. Jeff Carter scored two goals, including the game-winner early in the third period. Marian Gaborik and Trevor Lewis also scored. Jonathan Quick made 15 saves in the win.

COYOTE CARTER

WE’RE DOING IT LIVE: Catch the KINGS LIVE pregame show at 7:00 on FOX SPORTS WEST, followed with Bob and Jim on the live play-by-play from STAPLES Center for puck drop just after 7:30PM PT.

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