KINGS (13-7-5) at COYOTES (10-13-3)
TV: FS-W, FS-A
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Arizona Coyotes have 10 wins in the first 26 games of the season. Almost a third of those wins have come against the Edmonton Oilers, the only team with fewer points than the Coyotes in the Western Conference standings.
The Coyotes' 6-8-1 road record doesn't stick out as a huge problem. The big concern for Arizona is their 4-5-2 record at home, especially during November when they went 1-3-2 at Gila River Arena. They've lost five in a row at home (0-3-2) as they open a five-game, 12-day homestand Thursday against the Los Angeles Kings.
Arizona's best home win of the season came Oct. 11 against the Kings when they rallied from a 2-0 deficit for a 3-2 overtime win on Oliver Ekman-Larsson's game-winning goal. But that was the second game of the season, and big efforts like that in Glendale have been hard to come by since then.
"We're home for five games and we have a chance to practice and bring more structure back to our game," Arizona coach Dave Tippett said. "We've had a very tough stretch here (11 games in 18 days) and we're going to try to get some rest and be ready to play and get the best results."
The Coyotes were shut out 3-0 at home against the Calgary Flames five days ago and have gone more than 109 minutes without a goal on home ice since blowing a 3-0 first-period lead and losing 4-3 in overtime to the Colorado Avalanche on Nov. 25. Four of the five losses have come by one goal. The games were up for grabs late in regulation or in overtime, but the points continue to slip away and put the Coyotes in a precarious position.
Goalie Mike Smith will start his third straight game Thursday after playing a strong game in a 5-2 win Monday in Edmonton. But he struggled a bit in a 5-2 loss at Calgary on Tuesday.
The Kings had an optional skate Thursday. Martin Jones will make his first career start in goal against the Coyotes in place of Jonathan Quick.
Quick shut out the Boston Bruins 2-0 on Tuesday, but the Kings could be trying to change their luck in Glendale, where they have lost five straight (0-4-1).
The Coyotes have two regulation wins in the past nine games (2-5-2) and both are against the Oilers. They have gotten a lift from young forward Tobias Rieder, and Ekman-Larsson is coming on after a very slow start. But the veteran core needs to produce if Arizona is going to rebound.
Rieder's two shorthanded goals on one shift against the Oilers on Monday is an example of the kind of play Tippett is looking for: making the most of opportunities.
"Everyone works hard, but what do you do after that? Do you create chances? Do you capitalize on those chances?" Tippett said. "Whether it's making a good play or finishing a breakaway or finding a way to block a shot, that's what wins you games."
Here are the projected lineups:
Tanner Pearson - Anze Kopitar - Jeff Carter
Dwight King - Mike Richards - Tyler Toffoli
Dustin Brown - Jarret Stoll - Justin Williams
Kyle Clifford - Trevor Lewis - Jordan Nolan
Jake Muzzin - Drew Doughty
Robyn Regehr - Matt Greene
Brayden McNabb - Jamie McBain
Scratched: Andy Andreoff
Suspended: Slava Voynov
Injured: Marian Gaborik (upper body), Alec Martinez (finger)
Tobias Rieder - Antoine Vermette - Mikkel Boedker
Lauri Korpikoski - Sam Gagner - Shane Doan
Brandon McMillan - Martin Hanzal - Martin Erat
Joe Vitale - Kyle Chipchura - B.J. Crombeen
Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Zbynek Michalek
Keith Yandle - Michael Stone
David Schlemko – Chris Summers
Scratched: Rob Klinkhammer
Injured: David Moss (upper body), Brandon Gormley (lower body), Connor Murphy (upper body)
Status report: All three of the injured Coyotes were able to take part in the skate Tuesday. Tippett said Murphy could play as early as Saturday against the Boston Bruins. Gormley and Moss aren't far behind, but Moss is slightly ahead of Gormley. ... The Coyotes sent forward Brendan Shinnimin back to the Portland Pirates of the American Hockey League on Tuesday. … Gaborik did not make the trip for Los Angeles.
Who's hot: Doughty needs one point to pass Marty McSorley for fifth place on the Kings all-time scoring list for defensemen, and one power-play goal to tie Rob Blake for fourth in that category. … Smith is 11-4-1 with a 2.16 goals-against average and two shutouts in 17 games against the Kings. He has more wins against Los Angeles than any other opponent.