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NHL Preview from The Sports Network

Thursday, January 5th (All times Eastern)

Phoenix Coyotes (19-17-4) at Los Angeles Kings (19-14-7), 10:30 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Kings have been lucky to pick up some points over the past few weeks as their offense continues its season-long struggles.

Los Angeles did have one of its better showings the last time it faced Phoenix and will look to duplicate that tonight in another meeting with the division- rival Coyotes.

The Kings continue to sit last in the NHL with a mere 2.10 goals per game and have been held to three goals or less in regulation in 17 of their last 19 games. They managed four goals in each of the two contests in which they went past three on the scoreboard, including a 4-3 effort over the visiting Coyotes on Dec. 26.

Four different Los Angeles skaters scored, with Dustin Brown logging the game- winner in the third period. It was Los Angeles' fifth victory in its last six games versus Phoenix and third straight at home in this series.

The triumph over the Coyotes was part of the Kings' current eight-game point streak. Los Angeles is 5-0-3 over that time and has scored one goal or less in all three of the post-regulation losses.

The Kings were held to just a Brown goal in Monday's 2-1 shootout setback to the visiting Avalanche. Jonathan Quick made 20 saves, but was tagged for the game-tying goal with 5:43 to play in regulation and yielded the lone shootout marker. Jarret Stoll, Anze Kopitar and Brown all came up empty on their chances in the tiebreaker.

Quick, meanwhile, dipped to 3-4 in shootouts this season after going 10-0 a season ago. Still, the Kings know they need to help him out with more offense.

"We have to shoot the puck more and get more scoring chances, it's as simple as that," said Los Angeles head coach Darryl Sutter, who was on the bench for his seventh game since replacing a fired Terry Murray. "You're not going to get very far in this league scoring one goal a game."

Los Angeles is one point back of San Jose for first place in the Pacific Division, with Phoenix four points off the pace. The Kings play the third of a six-game homestand this evening.

Phoenix was in a bit of a flux in net when it last faced Los Angeles, which came during Mike Smith's six-game absence due to a lower-body injury. Jason LaBarbara got the start on Dec. 26, but allowed all four goals on 29 shots before being relieved.

Smith returned to action on Tuesday in St. Louis, making 27 saves in a 4-1 loss. Radim Vrbata had the lone goal, his 19th goal of the season to match his total from 79 games last year.

"That's a game that we need to put more will and commitment in the game. I thought they won a lot more of the one-on-one battles and we didn't. When you don't win enough battles you don't create enough opportunities and usually don't win games," Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett said.

Phoenix has lost five of its last six, including two of three on a four-game road trip. It begins another three-game swing following Saturday's home contest versus the Islanders.

Forward Raffi Torres will serve the second contest of his two-game suspension delivered for his launching hit versus the Wild on Saturday. Torres scored twice when the Coyotes and Kings last met.

01/05 10:45:13 ET

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