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Kings-Coyotes Preview @NHLdotcom

Los Angeles will likely soon join Phoenix among the Western Conference teams eliminated from playoff contention, but the Kings still have a chance to beat out the Coyotes for last place in the Pacific Division.

With the teams tied at 73 points, the Kings will try to avoid heading toward a second straight last-place showing in the Pacific with a home-and-home series that begins Thursday night at Arena.

Barring a late winning streak or a collapse by third-place Dallas, the Kings (31-34-11) and Coyotes (33-37-7) will battle to stay out of last in the Pacific for the fourth straight season. Los Angeles has finished fourth in the division in two of the last three seasons, but was last in 2007-08.

With a 2-6-2 mark in their last 10, the Kings appear headed toward the basement again. After closing out a season-high six-game road trip with a shootout win and overtime loss, Los Angeles was flat in its return home Tuesday and fell 3-2 to the Stars.

Los Angeles allowed Dallas to take a two-goal lead at the end of the second period and didn't respond until Anze Kopitar scored with 1:31 remaining.

"When you come off a long road trip, it always seems that you have a tough time getting into it in the first game at home," Kings right wing Justin Williams said. "But at this level of the game, it's unacceptable for us to have a performance like that. It's ugly, it stinks, and it won't happen again."

The Kings have been without leading goal scorer Alexander Frolov, who has missed four games with a lower body injury, and Jarret Stoll has sat out the last two with an ailing groin. Defenseman Kyle Quincey is expected to miss the rest of the season while recovering from surgery for a herniated disc.

The Coyotes, meanwhile, earned their second straight victory Wednesday - 3-0 over Colorado - and are looking to match their season's longest win streak.

Al Montoya, the NHL's first Cuban-American, made 23 saves to get the shutout in his first NHL game, and lead Phoenix to its fifth win in eight games.

"I thought early in the game he made a couple of key saves. It was a real solid effort for a guy playing his first NHL game," Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky said. "Good for him. Hopefully this is something good to go from here."

Phoenix will miss the playoffs for a sixth consecutive season, but the Coyotes are looking for their 10th win in 13 meetings with Los Angeles.

Phoenix has taken three of four this season but suffered a 4-0 loss in its previous home game against the Kings on Dec. 27.

Shane Doan has scored in consecutive games and needs one more goal to pass his career-high of 30 set in 2005-06. Doan, who also leads Phoenix with 68 points, has seven goals and seven assists in the last 12 contests.

The teams play again Saturday in Los Angeles.

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