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Coyotes-Kings Preview @NHLdotcom
Coyotes-Kings Preview

GAME: Phoenix Coyotes (20-18-2) at Los Angeles Kings (26-14-2).

TIME: Thursday, 10:30 p.m. EST.

It took 11 goals and an overtime period to decide a winner the last time the Phoenix Coyotes and Los Angeles Kings played.

The two Pacific Division rivals meet again, trying to gain an advantage in the season series.

Phoenix squared the season series at two games apiece with its 6-5 overtime home win Dec. 29. Keith Ballard netted the game-winner for the Coyotes, who lost for just the second time in their last six games with a 5-2 defeat Saturday to the Colorado Avalanche.

Ladislav Nagy, Mike Comrie and Shane Doan, the top three point-scorers for the Coyotes, were held scoreless in Saturday's defeat. Nagy has a goal and five assists in three games this season against Los Angeles while Comrie and Doan have combined for two goals and five assists in four games against the Kings.

Dennis Gauthier and Geoff Sanderson scored the goals for the Coyotes, who have allowed 21 goals their last four games.

The Kings bounced back from Saturday's loss by sweeping a home-and-home series from the Dallas Stars. Mattias Norstrom netted the winning goal on the power play in a 3-2 overtime win Monday as Los Angeles improved to 4-0-1 in its last five games and extended its lead over Phoenix in the Pacific Division to 12 points.

"Our power play has been struggling from time to time this year but the last six games we've really turned it around," Norstrom said.

The Kings have played well on the power play recently, going 10-for-35 with the man advantage their last five games.

STANDINGS (through Jan. 4): Coyotes - 42 points, 3rd place (tied), 12 PB, Pacific Division. Kings - 54 points, 1st place, Pacific Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Coyotes - Comrie, 14 goals; Nagy, 31 assists and 44 points; Sean O'Donnell, 73 PIM. Kings - Pavol Demitra, 20 goals and 50 points; Pavol Demitra and Lubomir Visnovsky, 30 assists; Sean Avery, 136 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Jan. 4): Coyotes - Power play: 19 percent (50 for 263), 8th in NHL. Penalty killing: 80.6 percent (200 for 248), 24th. Kings - Power play: 15.9 percent (46 for 289), 22nd. Penalty killing: 80.5 percent (210 for 261), 25th.

GOALTENDERS: Coyotes - Curtis Joseph (16-11-0, 2 SO, 2.65 GAA); Brian Boucher (2-2-0, 0, 3.14). Kings - Mathieu Garon (18-8-0, 0, 2.67); Jason LaBarbera (8-6-2, 0, 3.10).


LAST MEETING: Dec. 29, 2005; Coyotes, 6-5 (OT). At Phoenix, the Coyotes successfully converted 3 of 6 power-play opportunities in the win.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Coyotes - 9-10-1 on the road; Kings - 14-6-0 at home.

Associated Press
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