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Kings-Coyotes Preview @NHLdotcom
Kings-Coyotes Preview

GAME: Los Angeles Kings (30-21-4) at Phoenix Coyotes (26-25-3).

TIME: Thursday, 9 p.m. EST.

The Los Angeles Kings look to avoid a season-high fifth straight loss when they visit the Phoenix Coyotes.

Los Angeles has lost nine of 12 since a 4-0 win over Phoenix on Jan. 5. In first place at that point, the Kings have since slipped behind Dallas in the Pacific Division.

The Kings, who also lost four straight from Nov. 28-Dec. 3, are coming off back-to-back defeats to Anaheim, including a 4-3 overtime loss on Monday in the opener of a four-game road trip.

"They played an intense game, but we certainly had a high intensity level, too," Los Angeles coach Andy Murray said. "We're disappointed to only get one point. It's a great rivalry."

The Kings gave up two power-play goals and matched a season high by allowing 45 shots. Los Angeles has allowed a power-play goal in each of the last six games and gave up four in Saturday's 6-2 loss to the Mighty Ducks.

"We're definitely going to have to fix that," Luc Robitaille said after Saturday's loss. "Power plays and (penalty kills) are what wins you games in the playoffs. And let's face it, from here to the end of the year it's like the playoffs. So we have no choice to fix that problem."

In five contests between the Kings and Coyotes this season, the home team has won every game, and Los Angeles has only two victories in the last 10 meetings at Phoenix.

The Coyotes played without leading scorer Ladislav Nagy for only the third time this season, and lost 7-4 to Vancouver on Tuesday night.

Nagy, who has 15 goals and 41 assists, has been bothered by a sore knee and visited specialists on Tuesday and Wednesday to determine the problem. The sixth-year forward, who needs one point to match his career high set in 2002-03, is listed as day to day.

The Coyotes racked up a season-high 46 shots without Nagy, but couldn't keep pace with the Canucks, who scored three goals on deflections off Phoenix players.

"We showed signs at getting back into the game but every time we would show signs they would put an end to it and get another goal and put it out of reach," said Coyotes forward Geoff Sanderson, who returned to the lineup after missing two games with a sprained pelvic ligament.

Phoenix has lost two straight and four of its last six games. The Coyotes are in a stretch of 10 straight games at home, including eight before the Olympic break.

STANDINGS: Kings - 64 points, 2nd place, 10 PB, Pacific Division. Coyotes - 55 points, 4th place (tied), 19 PB, Pacific Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Kings - Pavol Demitra, 20 goals; Lubomir Visnovsky, 38 assists; Craig Conroy, 53 points; Sean Avery, 191 PIM. Coyotes - Mike Comrie, 18 goals; Nagy, 41 assists and 56 points; Sean O'Donnell, 112 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Kings - Power play: 15.4 percent (57 for 369), 23rd in NHL. Penalty killing: 79.1 percent (273 for 345), 28th. Coyotes - Power play: 18.3 percent (67 for 366), 11th. Penalty killing: 81.0 percent (277 for 342), 20th.

GOALTENDERS: Kings - Mathieu Garon (21-13-2, 2 SO, 2.95 GAA); Jason LaBarbera (9-8-2, 3.21). Coyotes - Curtis Joseph (21-14-1, 2, 2.81); Brian Boucher (3-6-0, 3.87).

SEASON SERIES: Kings, 3-2.

LAST MEETING: Jan. 5; Kings, 4-0. At Los Angeles, Robitaille scored twice to end a 14-game drought, and Garon made 29 saves for his fifth career shutout.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Kings - 13-12-3 on the road; Coyotes - 14-11-2 at home.

Associated Press

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