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Struggling Coyotes visit slumping Kings

by John Kreiser

COYOTES (23-15-9) at KINGS (24-21-1)

TV -- FS-West (HD)

Last 10 -- Phoenix 6-2-2; Los Angeles 2-8-0

Season series -- It's the third meeting of the season between the Pacific Division rivals, but the Coyotes' first visit to Los Angeles. Phoenix won both games at Arena earlier this season and has won the last four against L.A. dating back to last season.

Big story -- Both teams are coming into this game -- the front end of a home-and-home series -- looking to rebound after losing back-to-back games Monday and Tuesday. The Coyotes lost both games at home, 4-2 to San Jose and 5-2 to Nashville, while the Kings fell 2-1 at Dallas and again at St. Louis.

Team Scope:

Coyotes -- Phoenix entered the week fourth in the West and with the chance to add points by winning a couple of home games before coming to L.A, Instead, they're now sixth after disappointing efforts against the Sharks and Predators that left coach Dave Tippett very unhappy.

"We're making far too many errors and our whole game is out of sync here the last two games," Tippett said. "We chased the puck (in a 4-2 loss to San Jose on Monday) and we chased it again tonight. That is not who we are going to be if we are going to win on a consistent basis."

Kings -- The good times were rolling in Los Angeles early in the season, but they're long since gone as the Kings struggle to get back into the top eight in the West. Just as they did Monday in Dallas, the Kings played just well enough to lose in St. Louis. With the offense struggling again, the Kings have no room for error in goal -- and while Jonathan Quick was solid for most of the night in St. Louis, the Kings lost when Blues defenseman Erik Johnson flipped an innocent- looking wrist shot on net, from the top of the right circle. Quick dropped to his knees to gather it into his midsection, but the puck appeared behind him and trickled over the line with 6:47 left, breaking a 1-1 tie.

"That's just a shot from the boards. That's a play that you've got to have, 100 percent of the time," coach Terry Murray said. "It just found its way through."

Who's hot -- Phoenix defenseman Keith Yandle, the team's leading scorer, has 7 points during a five-game point-scoring streak. Captain Shane Doan has points in four of the Coyotes' last five games.

Injury report -- The Coyotes are without defenseman Ed Jovanovski (lower body) and forward Vernon Fiddler (upper body). Defenseman Michal Rozsival, acquired from the Rangers last week, made his debut with the Coyotes on Tuesday. … Scott Parse (hip) is out long-term for Los Angeles, while forward Wayne Simmonds (leg) is day-to-day.

Stat pack -- One area in which the Coyotes are markedly worse than last season is in games that go past regulation. Phoenix has won just two of the 11 games that were tied after 60 minutes this season -- last season, they were 19-7 in which games, including 14-6 in shootouts. This season, they are 2-3 in shootouts and 0-7 in overtime.

Puck drop -- If there's such a thing as a must game in January, this is one for the Kings, who've dropped to 12th in the West. They visit Phoenix on Saturday, host Boston and Colorado next week -- then play 10 in a row on the road.

"We've got to start getting results here, regardless of how good we play,'' team captain Dustin Brown said after the loss to the Blues. "I thought we did play a good game tonight, but we've got to find a way to win. That's going to take everyone here. It's not going to be one (expletive) guy. We win and lose as a team, so we've got to find a way to get wins here, and quickly.''

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