COYOTES (36-27-13) at KINGS (44-26-6)
Season series: This is the fifth and final game between the Phoenix Coyotes and Los Angeles Kings. The Coyotes have won the past three, including a 4-3 win at Staples Center on March 17 in the most recent game.
Big story: Phoenix will look to move back into the second of two Western Conference wild-card spots one night after dropping out of it. Coupled with the Dallas Stars' 5-0 win against the Washington Capitals, the Coyotes' 2-1 shootout loss Tuesday against the Winnipeg Jets left Dallas and Phoenix even at 85 points. The Stars jumped into the final wild-card spot by virtue of having played one fewer game than the Coyotes.
Meanwhile, Los Angeles would clinch a fifth consecutive berth into the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a regulation win against Phoenix. The Kings, who are in third place in the Pacific Division, hold a nine-point lead on the fourth-place Coyotes. Each team has six games remaining.
Coyotes: Knowing it had to win to stay ahead of Dallas in the wild-card race, Phoenix failed to beat a floundering Winnipeg team that had blown a 4-0 lead Monday night against the Anaheim Ducks on the way to a 5-4 overtime loss. The 2-1 shootout loss was the Coyotes' second straight on home ice.
"There's an extra point there you'd certainly like to have, but it wasn't for a lack of trying," Head Coach Dave Tippett said. "They got a couple of bounces, and we didn't. Sometimes as good as you want to be, the game doesn't let you be as good."
Goalie Thomas Greiss will start vs. LA. Greiss is 2-2-0 with one shutout, a 1.41 goals-against average and a .944 save percentage in five career games vs. the Kings.
Center Antoine Vermette has scored a team-best 14 goals on the road this season and is first on the team with a plus-7 rating in away games.
Captain Shane Doan has registered more points (76) against the Kings than any other NHL opponent in his career.
Kings: Despite a 3-2 loss against the Minnesota Wild on Monday, Los Angeles tied a team record for wins in a calendar month, going 11-4-0 in March.
With a nine-point lead on Phoenix, Los Angeles is all but assured of a playoff berth. The Kings also know there's very little chance they will catch the Pacific-leading Anaheim Ducks (106 points) or second-place San Jose Sharks (105 points) with six games left on their schedule.
"I guess it's tough in a way," defenseman Drew Doughty said Monday, according to the Los Angeles Times. "But we can't be thinking about that. We have to make sure we are still battling for a spot. The main thing is we want to be playing really good hockey going into the playoffs. If we ever slack at any point, even though we know we'll be in that third spot, it's going to make our game go downhill."
Perhaps history will intrigue the Kings down the stretch: They are two wins short of matching the team record of 46, set in 1990-91.
Who's hot: Coyotes left wing Mikkel Boedker has four points (two goals) in his past four games. … Kings right wing Marian Gaborik has a goal and four assists during a four-game point streak.
Injury report: Phoenix goalie Mike Smith (lower-body) is out. He was on the ice before practice Monday and will be reevaluated over the weekend. Defenseman David Schlemko (lower-body), who has not played since March 6, is day to day. … Los Angeles left wing Dwight King (undisclosed), who sat out Monday, is day to day.
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