Season series: This is the second of five meetings between the Pacific Division rivals. The Kings earned a 4-2 win against the Coyotes on Jan. 26 at Jobing.com Arena.
Big story: After a sluggish start, the champs are here. Los Angeles enters Tuesday’s action having won nine of its past 10 games, trimming the Anaheim Ducks’ lead atop the Pacific to just nine points. Phoenix, meanwhile, has earned points in six of 10 and trails the Kings by just three points.
Coyotes: Phoenix bounced back from a 6-3 loss to the St. Louis Blues by earning a 2-1 win against the Dallas Stars at Jobing.com Arena on Saturday. Tuesday marks the end of a three-game homestand for the Coyotes, as they’ll begin a four-game road trip Thursday at St. Louis.
Rob Klinkhammer’s first goal in the National Hockey League proved to be the game-winner against the Stars.
The Coyotes blocked a season-high 30 shots in Saturday's win, pleasing Head Coach Dave Tippett.
“When you’re willing to block shots, that shows your mind’s in the right place to be competitive,” Tippett said.
Coyotes Center Matthew Lombardi, who missed Saturday’s game because of an upper-body injury, practiced on Monday and could play in tonight’s game. However, the Coyotes again will play minus forward Radim Vrbata, who is nursing an injured foot. Vrbata skated before his teammates practiced on Monday, but there’s no timeline for his return.
“He skates on it some days and it feels all right, and then other days he just doesn’t think it’s good enough to go,” Tippett said. “When he feels comfortable that he can get out there and do his job, that’s when he’ll be back.”
Mike Smith, who owns an 8-2-1 record with a 1.62 goals-against average in 11 career games against the Kings, will start in goal. It will be Smith's 250th NHL game. He is 115-91-31 in his career including a 48-25-23 mark as a member of the Coyotes.
Kings: Los Angeles hits the road for a pair of games after concluding a five-game homestand Monday with a 3-1 victory against the Calgary Flames at Staples Center. Dustin Brown scored twice for the Kings, while Jonathan Quick held the Flames off the scoreboard until the 14:38 mark of the third period.
“It wasn’t clean,” Jarret Stoll said of Monday’s win. “It’s wasn’t pretty. It was hack-and-whack out there a lot of times. Pucks were all over the place, and sometimes it seems like there were more than one or two pucks out there. We found a way to win.”
Who’s hot: Phoenix captain Shane Doan has notched four goals in the past six games. ... Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin has three goals and three assists over his past four games and ranks third in points (10) among rookie blueliners.
Injury report: The Coyotes are missing David Schlemko (upper body) and Radim Vrbata (lower body), who are both on injured reserve. ... Los Angeles will be without defensemen Willie Mitchell (knee) and Matt Greene (back).
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