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Kings ready for second crack at Stanley Cup Final

by Corey Masisak

(Los Angeles leads series, 3-1)


Big Story: The Kings will put their perfect road record in the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs on the line and try for a second time to close out the Coyotes.

Team Scope:

Kings: Los Angeles had won eight straight playoff games and 11 of 12 to start this postseason. The Kings also got off to a strong start in Game 4, but Phoenix goaltender Mike Smith had a big first period, and the Coyotes defense began to take control of the contest.

There haven't been many problems for the Kings in this postseason, but the power play isn't helping them right now. Los Angeles has scored only six times with the man advantage this postseason, and only three times since Game 2 of the first round. The Kings are 3-for-58 since then, and two of those goals have come in 5-on-3 situations.

"We know a lot of times in playoffs special teams are key," Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said. "Our penalty kill has been great entire playoffs. Our power play needs to pick it up. If we get a goal, at least one on that power play [in Game 4], it changes the whole momentum of the game. We definitely got to make sure that we're capitalizing on those opportunities."

Coyotes: Six times in this postseason run, the Coyotes have been defeated. In three of the games following those defeats, Smith has pitched a shutout. He's 4-2 in games after a loss -- Games 2 and 3 of this series are his only defeats -- and he's allowed only eight goals in those six contests.

Smith has also been getting stronger as each series progresses. In Game 4 or later in the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Smith is 5-1, and he has yielded just five goals in those six contests. He's also still riding a streak of 24 consecutive games with at least a .900 save percentage or better dating back to the regular season. He's had at least a .920 save percentage in 13 of the 15 postseason tilts.

"Whenever we've needed him all year, in the real big game, he's been unbelievable," Phoenix captain Shane Doan said. "There's something special about him that I'm sure glad he's on my team. He's a guy that rises to the occasion. He's fun to have on your team."

Who's Hot: Doan has four goals and seven points in the past eight games, including both goals in Phoenix's 2-0 victory in Game 4. Dwight King had five goals in 33 NHL games before this postseason, but he has five during this run for the Kings -- including four in the past four games during this series.

Injury Report: The Kings got Colin Fraser back from a personal issue for Game 4, and are expected to play everyone who doesn't have a long-term injury Tuesday. The Coyotes have a couple of players trying to play through injuries. Defenseman Adrian Aucoin missed the end of Game 4 and did not practice Monday, but said he could still play Tuesday. Coach Dave Tippett was noncommittal.

Stat Pack: During the regular season, the guys currently on Phoenix's top line -- Radim Vrbata, Ray Whitney and Martin Hanzal -- combined for 67 of the team's 210 goals (nearly 32 percent). In the postseason, the guys currently on the Coyotes' second line -- Shane Doan, Antoine Vermette and Mikkel Boedker -- have combined for 14 of the team's (41.2 percent).

Puck Drop: The Kings are seven-for-seven away from Staples Center in this postseason, and that includes winning the first two games of this series at Arena. Can the Coyotes be the team that stops the trend?

"I really think it's tough to come into a building and do it three times," Doan said. "They did it to Vancouver. We acknowledge that. Tough to do it again. We got to find a way to win that next one at home. That's really all we're thinking about. No one is worrying too much about other than finding a way to win that one at home."

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