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Kings visit Coyotes, still seeking first win

by Mike G. Morreale /

KINGS (0-2-1) at COYOTES (1-3-0)


Season series: This is first of five meetings between these Pacific Division clubs. The Kings won the six-game series last season, 3-1-2.

Big story: The Los Angeles Kings have begun defense of their Stanley Cup championship with three straight losses and currently rank 15th in the Western Conference standings. Despite earning a point in a 2-1 overtime loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday, the Kings have been outscored 10-4 in their three setbacks. Jonathan Quick, who earned the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP, sports a 3.33 goals-against average and .891 save percentage.

Team Scope:

Kings: The absence of injured defensemen Willie Mitchell and Matt Greene has meant much more ice time for Drew Doughty, who played nearly 30 minutes against Colorado on Tuesday and 33:25 against Edmonton on Thursday. In three games, Doughty has no points, eight shots on net, and a minus-1 rating while averaging a team-high 29:42 of ice time.

"If you're going to regain your composure it's OK to be a little desperate, but not OK to panic," defenseman Rob Scuderi said. "It hasn't gone the way we'd like certainly, but you have to try to bounce back."

Coyotes: The injury-riddled Coyotes received goals from Steve Sullivan, Antoine Vermette and Lauri Korpikoski in Thursday's 5-3 loss to the San Jose Sharks. Jason LaBarbera, starting in place of the injured Mike Smith, stopped 30 shots. LaBarbera was solid through the first two periods, picking up where he left off Thursday when he stopped 21 of 22 shots against Columbus, but the Sharks struck for two goals in the final 1:53 of the game to snap a 3-3 tie.

Who's hot: Kyle Clifford has one goal, four points and a plus-4 rating despite the tough start for the Kings. … Sullivan notched his first hat trick since Dec. 14, 2009, on Wednesday in a victory over Columbus and then scored once more in the Coyotes' loss to the Sharks on Thursday.

Injury report: Greene, who underwent back surgery on Thursday, has been placed on injured reserve by the Kings and will likely miss the remainder of the season. Mitchell (knee surgery) practiced this week and is with the team on its current three-game road swing. … The Coyotes were without second-line center Martin Hanzal and defenseman Rostislav Klesla, both day-to-day with lower body injuries, on Thursday. Smith (lower body) remains questionable. Also, center Matthew Lombardi suffered an upper body injury against San Jose and did not return for the third period. The shortage of players has forced Phoenix to recall goalie Chad Johnson and defenseman David Rundblad from Portland of the AHL.

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