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Kings host Coyotes in potential playoff preview

by Brian Compton
COYOTES (49-25-6) at KINGS (45-27-7)

Last 10: Phoenix 6-3-1; Los Angeles 5-3-2.

Season Series: This is the sixth and final meeting between the Pacific Division rivals. Los Angeles has won three of the first five, but Phoenix took the most recent showdown, a 3-2 decision on Dec. 26, 2009 at Arena.

Big Story: Both teams haven't played in a Stanley Cup Playoff game since 2002, but that will change come next week. The Coyotes clinched the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference on Wednesday night, while the Kings are just one point out of fifth place. In an ironic twist, should L.A. end up with the No. 5 seed, it would face Phoenix in the opening round.

Team Scope:

Coyotes: Ilya Bryzgalov picked up his 42nd win of the season on Wednesday, leading Phoenix to a 5-2 victory against the Nashville Predators at Arena. The win assured the Coyotes of having home-ice advantage when the postseason begins next week. Shane Doan also ended a 23-game scoring drought in a win that gave the Coyotes home-ice advantage in the postseason for the first time in 11 years.

"Bryzie just makes an unbelievable save that's obviously the biggest play of the game, (Taylor Pyatt) scores on the other end and we find a way to win," Doan said. "(Keith) Yandle said he saw (the monkey) running or he grabbed it and threw it off me, one of the two. I obviously needed to get one, but getting it in a win was huge."

Kings: Los Angeles is coming off an intense home-and-home series with the Anaheim Ducks that saw both games go to a shootout. After losing 2-1 in their rink on Saturday, the Kings responded with a 5-4 victory at the Honda Center on Tuesday. Los Angeles rallied from three goals down to win.

"It's one of those games, again, where we don't come out as we should out of the gates, and we battled back in the end," said forward Anze Kopitar, who scored the decisive goal in the third round of the shootout.

"We all realize that's not going to take us (far), but it's two points right now, and it's good to know that we can come back in these situations. It just shows the character. We clinched the playoffs, and we could easily just let this one slide and maybe get ready for the next one, but we battled back and it's a good feeling."

Who's Hot: Coyotes forward Wojtek Wolski scored his career-high 23rd goal of the season on Wednesday night against Nashville. He has three tallies in his last six contests. … Kings captain Dustin Brown had a goal and an assist on Tuesday night and has six points in his last three games.

Injury Report: Kurt Sauer (neck), Scottie Upshall (torn ACL) and Robert Lang (upper body) are out for Phoenix. … Jeff Halpern (upper body) is questionable for Los Angeles.

Stat Pack: The Coyotes have won their last seven home games, dating back to Mar. 2 – the day before Wolski and four other players (Mathieu Schneider, Lee Stempniak, Derek Morris and Petteri Nokelainen) were acquired at the trade deadline.

Puck Drop: "Home ice doesn't guarantee anything of course, but it's great that you don't have to travel right away. Now we can stay home, prepare and get the advantage. It's a big thing for us." -- Coyotes forward Lauri Korpikoski
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