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Kings attempt to slow Coyotes in Pacific battle

by Davis Harper /

COYOTES (6-2-2) at KINGS (6-4-0)


Season series: This is the first of five season meetings between these Pacific Division rivals. The Los Angeles Kings make the return trip to play the Phoenix Coyotes next Tuesday. The Kings have won six of their last eight matchups with the Coyotes dating back to the 2012 Western Conference Final.

Big story: The Coyotes are looking to build off a 4-2 win against the Calgary Flames on Tuesday, a win that stretched their run without a regulation loss to seven games. The Kings, meanwhile, will try to rebound from a 3-2 home loss to those same Flames on Monday.

Team Scope:

Coyotes: Before the season most prognosticators were saying Phoenix's season would hinge on the play of its goaltender, Mike Smith. And while Smith has been effective, the addition of forward Mike Ribeiro this offseason has proven just as vital. Ribeiro carries a seven-game point streak of his own into the game with Los Angeles, including four goals in his past two games. Since joining a line with Mikkel Boedker and David Moss, Ribeiro has five goals and nine points, including three game-winners.

"[Calgary is] not an easy team to play. They make you skate 200 feet all the time, but we stuck together and we got the plays we needed," Ribeiro said after Tuesday's win. "I'm enjoying playing with [Boedker and Moss], and we were able to break them down with the forecheck and open up the ice a little."

Kings: Los Angeles is another team that's never easy to play against. Against the Flames on Monday, however, the Kings suffered a few atypical lapses in concentration on the penalty kill. The Kings conceded three goals on six power-play chances, including one to TJ Brodie with 30 seconds left in regulation that broke a 2-2 tie.

"We definitely lost the special teams battles," said forward Anze Kopitar, who took the hooking penalty that led to Brodie's game-winner. "Usually when that happens, the outcome is not going to be very good, especially when it is by that big of a margin. We took some bad penalties, including myself. It was a stupid penalty on my part and shouldn't have happened."

The Kings are still looking for their first goal from a center,

"Our centermen have over 10 games in [and haven’t scored.] I bet in the history of the game there’s no team that’s 6-4 and their centermen haven’t scored a goal yet," coach Darryl Sutter said Wednesday. Asked what could be done to address the problem, he said, "I can’t play center. I’m not very good."

Who’s hot: Smith is 4-0-2 over his past six games. … Kings defenseman Drew Doughty has two goals and an assist in his past two games.

Injury report: Coyotes captain Shane Doan  is day-to-day with a lower-body injury. … The Kings report no injuries.

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