The Los Angeles Kings have the league's worst record, and the Phoenix Coyotes are a big reason why.
Phoenix looks to beat Los Angeles for the sixth time in as many meetings this season when the Pacific Division foes close a home-and-home set Monday at Staples Center.
No team has beaten the Kings (25-33-3) more in 2007-08 than the Coyotes (30-25-4), who might not even be in the playoff chase if it weren't for their domination of this series. Phoenix goes into this matchup two points out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, while Los Angeles is 13 back and at the bottom of the standings.
The Coyotes clinched the season series with the Kings with a 4-3 win in Phoenix on Saturday. The teams, who will also meet on March 20 and 27, split eight meetings last season.
The Coyotes have scored four goals in each of the last four meetings and have outshot Los Angeles in four of five. Phoenix is 6-for-16 on the power play in the season series, including 2-for-5 on Saturday, while the Kings have gone 3-for-22.
"This time of year special teams are going to decide games," said Coyotes defenseman Ed Jovanovski, who had a power-play goal and two assists Saturday. "LA is a little bit passive and it gives us more opportunity to handle the puck."
The Kings have let their last five opponents go 7-for-21 with the man advantage and they have the worst penalty-killing unit in the West, allowing teams to score 78.1 percent of the time.
Coach Marc Crawford, however, was not completely displeased by the Kings' effort Saturday because they erased a two-goal deficit in the third period, only to lose on Radim Vrbata's power-play goal with 7:06 to play.
"In order to win in these types of game when the stakes get a little bit higher, you have to make sure you're ready to battle, ready to compete, finish checks and pay the price in front of the net," Crawford said. "Those are the types of things that win. We got those goals because of those kind of efforts."
While the Kings have alternated wins and losses in their last six games, the Coyotes are seeking a third straight victory since a four-game losing streak.
They totaled eight goals during that skid before scoring nine over the last two games.
"We seem to have a little more structure in the offensive zone right now," said Phoenix coach Wayne Gretzky, who seeks his 100th coaching victory Monday.
Vrbata has two goals and two assists in the last two games as his career season continues. The sixth-year winger leads Phoenix with 26 goals - he never had more than 18 in any previous season - and his 46 points rank second on the team behind Shane Doan (59).
Doan has six points in his last three games, and has totaled four goals and four assists in five matchups with Los Angeles this season. Jovanovski has nine points in the season series.
Phoenix's Ilya Bryzgalov made 25 saves Saturday and has allowed no more than three goals in 13 straight starts, going 6-3-3.
Los Angeles' Jason LaBarbera has a dismal 3.72 goals-against average in seven appearances this month, but it seems likely he will be back in net Monday. He came off the bench in the third period Saturday after Dan Cloutier had to leave the game due to flu-like symptoms.
"He almost passed out walking out to the rink," Crawford said.