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NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Wednesday, April 2nd (All times Eastern)
Phoenix Coyotes (36-27-13) at Los Angeles Kings (44-26-6), 10:30 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - After picking up just one point on a two-game homestand, the Phoenix Coyotes find themselves out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference.
The Coyotes need to rebound in a hurry on Wednesday night when they visit the Los Angeles Kings.
After picking up five points on a three-game road trip out on the East Coast, the Coyotes returned home and lost a 3-1 decision to the Minnesota Wild on Saturday. They then followed up with last night's 2-1 shootout setback to the Winnipeg Jets.
Though it picked up a point, Phoenix's 85 points on the season are now tied with the Dallas Stars for the second wild card spot in the West. The Stars created that tie by defeating the Washington Capitals on Tuesday and the idle club owns the current tiebreaker with a game in hand over the Coyotes.
Phoenix, which trails Los Angeles by nine points for third place in the Pacific Division, got a goal from Zbynek Michalek versus the Jets, while Thomas Greiss made 21 saves.
Greiss, though, was beaten by Winnipeg's Andrew Ladd in the second round of the tiebreaker and Antoine Vermette then hit the post in the third round to secure Phoenix's loss.
"I thought we played pretty well," said Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle. "We did some good things and got a point. It's tough this time of year when you don't get two, but one is something to wish for."
Phoenix is 2-1-1 since starting goaltender Mike Smith went down with a knee injury in the third period of an overtime loss to the New York Rangers on March 24. It is still unknown when he will be able to return to action.
The Kings are hoping to stay on a hot streak heading into the playoffs, having gone 11-4-0 in the month of March. Los Angeles did have a six-game winning streak snapped with Monday's 3-2 loss to the Minnesota Wild.
The Kings led 2-1 going into the third period on goals by Justin Williams and Alec Martinez, but the Wild scored a pair of goals 1:02 apart early in the third.
Jonathan Quick made 17 saves as the Kings lost for the second time in their last six games when leading after two periods. Prior to that stretch, which began with a 4-3 loss to Phoenix on March 17, Los Angeles had been 126-1-11 in its previous 138 games when leading after two frames.
"It simply wasn't good enough," said Williams, who also had an assist. "We've had a tendency this last week or so to give up leads in the third and that's very uncharacteristic of us, so we need to rectify that in these last five or six games because we're a team that shuts it down once we get the lead."
The Kings conclude a three-game homestand tonight and will then play four straight on the road before wrapping the regular season at home versus Anaheim on April 12.
The Kings won their first meeting with the Coyotes this season 7-4 in Los Angeles on Oct. 24, but Phoenix has outscored them 10-4 in winning the last three meetings.
L.A. has still won seven of the past nine encounters at home.
04/02 10:29:17 ET
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