NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Thursday, April 8th
(All times eastern)
Phoenix Coyotes (49-25-6) at Los Angeles Kings (45-27-7), 10:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - Both the Kings and Coyotes have clinched their first
playoff berths since 2002. There is also a good chance that one of those clubs
could send the other home in the first round.
In a possible Western Conference quarterfinals matchup, Los Angeles will look
to make a move up the standings tonight in a home battle with Phoenix at
The Coyotes knocked off the Predators, 5-2, on Wednesday to officially clinch
the West's fourth seed, giving them home-ice advantage in the postseason's
opening round. They could play host to the Kings, who are currently seventh in
the West with 97 points but could move past the Predators and Red Wings -- who
are both idle tonight and have 98 points -- and into fifth place with a
With three games remaining, Los Angeles has two games in hand over Nashville
and has also played one fewer game than Detroit.
The Kings are 3-0-1 over their last four games and are coming off a 5-4
shootout win over the Ducks on Tuesday that saw them rally from a three-goal
deficit. Alexander Frolov started the rally with a power-play goal late in the
second before Justin Williams and Michal Handzus netted third-period goals to
"This was big," said Anze Kopitar of the comeback. "It shows we can do it. At
the same time, we realize if we play like that from the start, it's going to
put us in this kind of position. We need to focus and get more intense at the
beginning of the game."
Jack Johnson and Kopitar both scored in the shootout and Erik Ersberg topped
two of three skaters he faced. Ersberg made 12 saves after replacing Jonathan
Quick in the second period.
Quick, though, remains the Kings' No. 1 goaltender and will make the start
tonight. That will allow him to tie the single-season club record for
appearances by a netminder with 71, set by Felix Potvin in 2001-02.
The Kings are 22-13-4 at home this year and play their final regular-season
game at the Staples Center on Saturday versus Edmonton. They then end their
season the following day at Colorado.
The fifth seed and playoff-opening round in Phoenix might not be a good thing
for Los Angeles. The Coyotes picked up their seventh victory in a row at home
on Wednesday when they bested the Predators. Phoenix will carry that streak
into the playoffs as their final two games of the season are on the road.
Five different Coyote skaters scored last night, with Shane Doan's goal maybe
being the biggest. Phoenix's captain notched his first tally since Jan. 31, a
span of 23 games between goals.
"It was getting to be an awful long time, and it was big to get one," Doan
told Phoenix's Web site. "When you're not scoring things seem to be a bit
harder. Hopefully things will be a bit easier for me."
Wojtek Wolski had a goal and an assist, while Taylor Pyatt, Lauri Korpikoski
and Petteri Nokelainen all added tallies. Ilya Bryzgalov allowed a goal just
12 seconds into the game, but settled down to make 23 saves.
The Coyotes, who end their regular season on Saturday in San Jose, will try to
snap a four-game road losing streak tonight.
Phoenix is 2-2-1 versus the Kings this year and has lost two of its last three
in Los Angeles.
04/08 11:23:07 ET