If the Phoenix Coyotes are to make the playoffs for the first time since 2002, it likely will be their success at home - especially against the Los Angeles Kings - that helps get them there.
The Coyotes look to continue their strong play at Jobing.com Arena on Saturday night when they meet the Kings to close a home-and-home series.
Phoenix (17-14-5) has averaged 4.6 goals while posting a 7-0-1 record at home against Los Angeles since November 2006. The Coyotes are 11-4-2 at home this season, with three of those regulation losses coming by one goal.
Their solid play in Arizona has been most evident this month.
Starting with a 4-2 win over Los Angeles on Dec. 2, the Coyotes have gone 5-0-1 while outscoring their opponents 21-11. The only home game in which Phoenix didn't pick up two points was on Dec. 13, a 5-4 shootout loss to defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit in which Ilya Bryzgalov gave up the tying goal with 21 seconds remaining in regulation.
Bryzgalov has been in goal for all but one home win in December, turning aside 136 of 142 shots for a 1.36 goals-against average.
Spearheading the offense at home for Phoenix this month have been Martin Hanzal and former King Steve Reinprecht, each with four goals.
While the Coyotes have thrived at home in 2008-09, the Kings have not done so on the road, going 4-8-0 away from Staples Center.
However, Los Angeles (14-15-6) is in position to win two straight on the road for the first time this season. On Tuesday, rookie Jon Quick made 24 saves for his first NHL shutout in a 3-0 victory at Columbus.
Quick was unable to make it two straight wins overall, however, as the Coyotes took the opener of this set on Friday with a 2-1 triumph at Staples Center.
Shane Doan remained red-hot with a goal and assist, Peter Mueller scored his first goal in 21 games, and Bryzgalov made 24 saves to continue his dominance over the Kings.
Doan, Phoenix's leading scorer, has three goals in his last two games to give him 17 this season along with 18 assists. The Coyotes captain also has points in eight straight home games against Los Angeles, totaling eight goals and five assists in that span.
His 56 total points versus the Kings are his most against any opponent.
"Shane has played really well all year. It's one of the best years I've seen him have," Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky said. "He's been outstanding. He's a tremendous captain and he's been a good leader for our group.
"It's good to see him score some big goals for us at key times in the game. That's what a leader does."
Doan may not be the only leader. Since joining the Coyotes off waivers from Anaheim in November 2007, Bryzgalov is 6-0-0 with a 1.33 GAA against the Kings, and has surrendered five goals in three home wins over Los Angeles.
Quick stopped 24 shots and Peter Harrold scored on the power play on Friday for the Kings, who fell to 1-4-2 in their last seven games.
"We just came up a little bit short," Quick said. "We've got to refocus and go back into Phoenix tomorrow and try to come out with a different outcome. These are games we need to win."