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Coyotes-Kings Preview @NHLdotcom

GAME: Phoenix Coyotes (29-32-4) at Los Angeles Kings (36-25-5).

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

Locked in a tight playoff race, the Los Angeles Kings open a key five-game homestand at Staples Center against the Phoenix Coyotes.

All three of Los Angeles' wins over Phoenix have come at home this season by a combined score of 11-3.

With just 16 games remaining, the Kings are sixth in the Western Conference, one point ahead of Vancouver and three in front of both Anaheim and Edmonton.

Phoenix is 12th in the conference, 12 points behind the Oilers and Mighty Ducks for the last playoff spot.

Eric Belanger, Joe Corvo and Michael Cammalleri each had goals, but the Kings lost for just the second time in eight games after falling 4-3 on Monday to San Jose.

Los Angeles was unable to contain the Sharks' Jonathan Cheechoo, who notched his franchise-record fourth hat trick of the season.

"We've got to find a way to beat them," said Cammalleri. "We can't play hang-on hockey. We've got to go out and take it to them and make plays and be aggressive. If you play hang-on hockey in this league, they're going to beat you."

Goaltender Mathieu Garon, who finished with 25 saves, has won his last four home starts and brings a lifetime 2-0-1 mark and 0.59 goals-against average versus Phoenix into this contest.

The Coyotes have lost three in a row and are 3-8-2 in their last 13 games. They have allowed 57 goals in that span, including giving up at least four goals nine times.

It won't get any easier for coach Wayne Gretzky's club, which began a five-game road trip with a 5-2 loss to Anaheim on Sunday in the back end of a home-and-home sweep by the Mighty Ducks.

"It was a hard fought game, our guys played a tough game," Gretzky said. "They're a team that plays really hard and our guys really came to work tonight."

Oleg Kvasha and Paul Mara scored to put the Coyotes up 2-0 in the second period, but Anaheim scored five unanswered goals for the win.

Philippe Sauve finished with 40 saves in his first start since being acquired from Calgary in a four-player trade on Feb. 1.

"He played fantastic for us tonight," said Mara. "It's too bad we couldn't close it out for him in the third."

Mara is having a career season, setting personal bests in goals (13) and power-play points (27). He has five goals and nine assists in 25 games against the Kings in his career.

STANDINGS: Coyotes - 62 points, 5th place, 27 PB, Pacific Division. Kings - 77 points, 2nd place, 12 PB, Pacific Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Coyotes - Shane Doan and Mike Comrie, 22 goals; Ladislav Nagy, 41 assists and 56 points; Doan, 114 PIM. Kings - Mark Parrish, 25 goals; Lubomir Visnovsky, 43 assists and 60 points; Sean Avery, 215 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Coyotes - Power play: 18.1 percent (79 for 436), 12th in NHL. Penalty killing: 81.5 percent (339 for 416), 20th. Kings - Power play: 15.2 percent (66 for 435), 25th. Penalty killing: 78.8 percent (320 for 406), 26th.

GOALTENDERS: Coyotes - Curtis Joseph (24-19-2, 2 SO, 3.07 GAA); Sauve (3-5-0, 3.36). Kings - Garon (27-17-3, 2, 3.02); Jason LaBarbera (9-8-2, 3.29).

SEASON SERIES: Kings, 3-1-2.

LAST MEETING: Feb. 2; Coyotes, 2-1 (SO). At Glendale, Ariz., Steve Reinprecht scored the only goal in the shootout in his Coyotes debut after being acquired from Calgary.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Coyotes - 13-16-1 on the road; Kings - 21-9-1 at home.

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