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Coyotes' Playoff Push Continues Against Kings

Monday, 03.17.2014 / 5:03 PM

COYOTES (32-25-11) AT KINGS (38-24-6)

Season series: This is the fourth game between the Phoenix Coyotes and Los Angeles Kings. The Coyotes have won the past two, allowing one goal.

Big story: The Coyotes can leapfrog the eighth-place Dallas Stars with a win (or overtime/shootout loss) and get back into the playoff field. Dallas is idle.

Team Scope:

Coyotes: Phoenix has won three of its past four games but has a tough schedule ahead with a stretch of five games in eight days.

"We're just trying to manage the schedule, catch our breath and also recognize the urgency of the situation," Head Coach Dave Tippett said. "That's what makes (the) playoff push and playoff hockey fun."

Regarding the game with the Kings, Tippett said: "You have to be on the inside of battles. The Calgary game (on Saturday), especially the second period, we were on the outside of too many battles. They had momentum in the game. We know this is going to be a hard-fought, close game. We have to be ready to compete in those areas that allow you to win."

A number of the Coyotes' upcoming opponents are fighting for playoff spots, including the Kings.

"For the most part, we control our own destiny. I know if we win every game we are probably in," forward Shane Doan said. "At the same time, we have to take care of the next game. It's a huge game against L.A."

Goalie Mike Smith is 10-4-1 with two shutouts, a 2.10 goals-against average and a .928 save percentage in 16 career games against LA. Those 10 wins are the most Smith has notched against any NHL team.

Smith sat out the morning skate. In his place goaltender coach Sean Burke manned one of the nets opposite backup goalie Thomas Greiss.

"He was a little down this morning, so we'll keep him off the ice," Tippett said. "Hopefully that gives him a spark.

The Coyotes are hopeful that center Martin Hanzal can return to the lineup for this game. Hanzal has missed the past seven games because of a lower-body injury, but he has been skating with the team the past few days. After the morning skate, Tippett said Hanzal was "available" for the game.

Kings: Los Angeles has lost two straight one-goal games following a season-high eight-game winning streak.

"We have to refocus. We need a good start and (to) be good around the net," forward Marian Gaboroik said. "(Phoenix is) a greedy team as well, so it's a big game that we have to get the two points."

Gaborik has notched two points in five games since joining the Kings from Columbus at the trade deadline.

LA has killed 22 of its past 24 penalties and has gone 7 for 28 on the power play over the past nine games (25.0 percent).

Goalie Jonathan Quick is 6-1-0 in his past seven games with a 1.28 goals-against average, a .946 save percentage and one shutout. Quick's next win will be his 171st and tie him with Rogatien Vachon for the most in club history.

Captain Dustin Brown, who is slumping offensively this season with 12 goals in 66 games, likely won't play because of illness and a lower-body injury.

Who's hot: Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle has 11 assists in his past 12 games… Kings defenseman Alec Martinez has a point in six of his past seven games.

Injury report: Coyotes defenseman David Schlemko (lower-body) and forward Martin Erat (upper body) are out... Kings forward Dustin Brown (illness) did not play Saturday and is questionable. Goalie Jonathan Quick (illness) is probable.

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