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Wednesday, April 6th (All times eastern)
Phoenix Coyotes (42-25-12) at Los Angeles Kings (45-28-6), 10:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - A late-season matchup between division rivals is usually a recipe for a tight, intense game. Try throwing a potential playoff berth into the mix as well.
The Phoenix Coyotes and Los Angeles Kings will clash tonight at the Staples Center, with the victor locking down a trip to the postseason.
The Coyotes and Kings come into this matchup with 96 points, tied for fifth in the Western Conference with three games to play. Both could have secured a trip to the postseason on Tuesday night if the Stars had lost in regulation to the Blue Jackets, but Dallas skated to a 3-0 victory.
Still, with two points guaranteed in this game, either Phoenix or Los Angeles will claim its second straight trip to the postseason tonight and jump past idle Nashville by a point for the fourth spot in the conference.
Both the Kings and Coyotes reached the playoffs last year for the first time since 2002.
The rested Coyotes head to Los Angeles after a 3-2-1 homestand that ended with Friday's 4-3 shootout loss to the Avalanche. Phoenix rallied back from two scores down on goals from Lee Stempniak, Ray Whitney and Shane Doan, but couldn't hold on for the win.
"We had chances to get two points, but we couldn't get all the way back," Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett said.
Ilya Bryzgalov made just 17 saves for the loss and remained tied with Bob Essensa for most wins in Jets/Coyotes franchise history with 129.
Phoenix, which has won four straight on the road, is expected to get a trio of players back from injury, the biggest being steady defenseman Ed Jovanovski, who hasn't played since suffering orbital bone fractures on Feb. 17 versus Atlanta.
"I feel good," Jovanovski told Phoenix's website on Monday. "It's been a long time away -- I'm anxious to get back for sure."
Lauri Korpikoski and Taylor Pyatt are also expected to return from upper-body injuries after practicing on Monday. Korpikoski is tied for second on the club with 18 goals, while Pyatt has 17 on the season.
The Kings, meanwhile, were last in action on Monday, when they dropped a 6-1 decision to the Pacific Division-winning Sharks. Michal Handzus had the lone Los Angeles goal and Jonathan Quick was pulled during the second period after yielding four goals on 16 shots.
"They come back at you when you go at them," said Los Angeles head coach Terry Murray. "We score there early in the second to make it a one-goal game and they come right back and from there it was their game."
Jonathan Bernier made 17 saves on 19 shots faced in relief for the Kings, who had won five of six coming in and still bring a four-game home winning streak into this meeting.
Los Angeles has won two straight over Phoenix since losing five in a row to the club, and a 1-0 victory at the Staples Center on March 3 was just its second in the past seven at home versus the Coyotes.
Quick is 6-8-1 with a 2.95 goals-against average in his career versus the Coyotes and will start tonight, but it was Bernier who posted a 25-save shutout on the last meeting.
Bryzgalov is 14-6-2 with a 2.32 GAA in his career when facing the Kings.
04/06 11:07:07 ET
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