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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Thursday, April 2nd (All times eastern)

Los Angeles Kings (31-24-11) at Phoenix Coyotes (33-37-7), 10 p.m.

(Sports Network) - Two teams fighting to stay out of the Pacific Division basement will face off tonight at Jobing.com Arena, where the Phoenix Coyotes host the Los Angeles Kings in the opener of a home-and-home series.

Both clubs enter this otherwise inconsequential matchup with 73 points, although the Kings do have a game in hand on the Coyotes. Los Angeles is attempting to avoid a last-place finish for a second consecutive year, while Phoenix has wound up at the bottom of the Pacific in three of the past four seasons.

These divisional foes will also play one another in Los Angeles on Saturday, the final 2008-09 meeting between the teams.

Phoenix does enter tonight's tilt with a bit of momentum, having delivered victories over Dallas and Colorado in its last two outings. It's the Coyotes' first winning streak of any kind since a two-game run from February 19-21.

Al Montoya was the unlikely hero of Phoenix's latest triumph, as the 24-year- old goaltender posted a shutout in his NHL debut to lead the Coyotes to a 3-0 win over Colorado Wednesday at the Pepsi Center.

Montoya, a former first-round pick of the New York Rangers who backstopped the United States to a gold medal at the 2004 World Junior Championships, stopped all 23 shots he faced. The young netminder got offensive help from Shane Doan, Mikkel Boedker and Zbynek Michalek, all of whom scored goals on the evening.

The Coyotes have also usually handled the Kings as of late. Phoenix is 9-2-1 against Los Angeles since the start of the 2007-08 campaign and has won three of four encounters with its rival this season. However, the Kings did deal the Coyotes a 4-0 loss in their most recent visit to Glendale, back on December 27.

Los Angeles has been stumbling down the stretch, with the team suffering its eighth loss in its last 10 games with Tuesday's 3-2 setback to Dallas at the Staples Center.

Jack Johnson and Anze Kopitar had the goals for the Kings, while goaltender Jonathan Quick made 32 saves in a losing cause.

Quick turned aside 26 Phoenix chances in Los Angeles' shutout win in Glendale in late December, with Alexander Frolov scoring a pair of goals to lead the Kings offensively in that game.

However, Frolov, Los Angeles' leader with 28 goals on the season, has sat out the club's last four contests with a groin strain and is unlikely to suit up for tonight's test.

04/02 10:49:18 ET


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