NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Monday, December 26th (All times Eastern)
Phoenix Coyotes (18-14-3) at Los Angeles Kings (16-14-5), 10 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Kings still haven't shaken their scoring issues since the firing of Terry Murray, but at least they are finding ways to produce victories.
Los Angeles tries to record a point in a fourth straight game this evening as it takes on the Phoenix Coyotes, who look to extend their recent run of solid play on the road.
The Kings fired Murray on Dec. 12 and replaced him on an interim basis with assistant John Stevens before giving the role full time to Darryl Sutter on Wednesday. Los Angeles is 3-2-1 since the coaching move, but has still been held to three goals or less in regulation for a club-record 14 straight games.
Los Angeles played its third straight shootout game on Friday, but left San Jose with a 2-1 loss after Ryane Clowe beat Jonathan Quick, who had 34 saves through overtime, in the extra frame's fourth round before Mike Richards was stopped by San Jose's Antti Niemi.
Richards had notched a power-play goal earlier in the game for the Kings, who had won three of four and fell to 3-3 in shootouts this year. Richards has scored in both games since missing eight in a row with a concussion.
"I was fine with the effort," said Sutter, who had won his debut on Tuesday in a 3-2 shootout win over Anaheim. "We scored a power-play goal, our penalty kill did a heck of a job and at the end of the day it was left to the two goalies."
Meanwhile, the Coyotes bring an 11-6-1 road record into this meeting, but fell to 7-8-2 at home on Friday with a 3-2 loss to the Blues. Phoenix head coach Dave Tippett had no explanation for his team's struggles in their own building afterwards.
"We've been banging our head against the wall trying to figure out why," Tippett said. "If you had told me that by Christmas we'd be a game under .500 [at home], I' be very surprised. That's something that's going to have to change. It's unacceptable to have the home record we do."
Keith Yandle pulled the Coyotes to within the final margin on a goal with 6:21 to play, but Phoenix's David Schlemko took a hooking penalty late to damage the comeback chance. Shane Doan also scored and Jason LaBarbera made 15 saves.
"It was a tough game," LaBarbera said. "There wasn't a whole lot of room out there and they played a pretty tight-checking game. They got a couple of bounces."
Goaltender Mike Smith missed his second game with a lower-body injury, while Adrian Aucoin also sat out on Friday with a lower-body issue. Both players are day-to-day, while Martin Hanzal is questionable after taking a hit into the boards versus the Blues.
Hanzal has a pair of assists versus the Kings this year in two meetings, which the teams have split in Phoenix. Los Angeles notched a shutout win on Oct. 20 behind 28 saves from Quick and then dropped a 3-2 overtime decision nine days later.
The Kings are 4-0-1 in their last five versus the Coyotes, winning the past two meetings at home. Richards, Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar all have a goal and an assist in the two meetings with Phoenix.
12/26 11:01:02 ET