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Kings-Coyotes Preview

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Radim Vrbata is doing his part to keep the Phoenix Coyotes in the Western Conference playoff chase.

After leading them to victory over a first-place team, he'll try to help them beat the league-worst Los Angeles Kings on Saturday night in the opener of a home-and-home series.

Vrbata scored and had two assists Thursday to help the Coyotes (29-25-4) to a 5-2 win over Pacific Division-leading Dallas, ending a three-game losing streak while earning a split of that home-and-home set.

The right wing didn't have a point during the slide, which included a 2-1 road loss to the Stars on Monday.

Still, Vrbata is enjoying a banner season with career highs in goals (25) and points (45). He's recorded 21 goals and 36 points in the Coyotes' wins this season, including three in his last two games against Los Angeles (25-32-3).

Phoenix is 4-0-0 against the Kings this season and 11th in the West, three points behind eighth-place Colorado. Coach Wayne Gretzky's team has not been to the postseason since 2001-02.

"Listen, we've been horsebleep for three or four years," he said. "Everything is positive right now, and everything is heading in the right direction. And the people who have hung in there with us, hopefully we can reward them at the end of the day.

"This team is going to be an exceptional team - not just a good team, but an exceptional team. There's a process now. There's a lot of parts to the puzzle that are in place."

Shane Doan, who also had a goal and two assists Thursday, has been with the team since it relocated from Winnipeg in 1996, and continues to be a major contributor. The right wing has 10 goals and 19 assists in the last 20 games, giving him a team-high 57 points. In that span, he been held off the scoresheet in two contests.

Doan has one goal in each game against Los Angeles this season to go along with two assists. Overall, he has six goals in a five-game streak at home versus the Kings.

Since the end the lockout in 2005, Phoenix is 9-1-0 at home against Los Angeles with the only loss coming by shutout.

The Kings are feeling positive despite their NHL-low 53 points. They're coming off a 6-3 home win against Calgary on Friday, during which rookie Ted Purcell scored his first NHL goal and fellow rookie Brian Boyle got his fourth in seven games since being promoted from the minors.

"The play of some of our younger people, especially Boyle and Purcell, was pretty special. And maybe it's pushing some other guys," Kings coach Marc Crawford said.

Anze Kopitar, who also scored against the Flames, has been another bright spot for the Kings. The center has seven goals and three assists in his last 10 games, giving him team highs of 25 goals and 55 points.

He has five goals and five assists in 12 career games against Phoenix, but has been limited to two assists in the last four games at Jobing.com Arena.

The Kings host Phoenix on Monday.

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