By Dave Vest
LOS ANGELES – The Coyotes will attempt to tighten a gap in the standings between themselves and Los Angeles tonight when they play the Kings at the Staples Center. The puck drops at 8:30 p.m. (Arizona time).
The Kings are in second place in the Pacific Division with 41 points. The Coyotes are in third place with 37.
Both teams have surprised many NHL gurus with their success, and both enter tonight’s game on hot streaks. The Coyotes (18-11-1) have won five games in a row. Los Angeles (19-10-3) has won five of its past six.
Phoenix is hoping the Kings are exhausted after their dramatic 5-4 overtime victory at San Jose on Wednesday night. The Coyotes last played Monday and are well rested.
Ilya Bryzgalov has been in net for Phoenix for all five wins in their streak and he will be in goal again tonight for his 11th consecutive start. Bryzgalov's goals-against average during the streak is an eye-popping 1.39.
Bryzgalov has keyed Phoenix’s excellent penalty killing. Opponents are 0 for their last 15 power plays vs. the Coyotes.
"It's definitely been a nice stretch for us and it starts with the great goaltending we're getting from Bryz," Coyotes forward Taylor Pyatt said. "Offensively, we are getting contributions from a lot of different guys and our defense has been very solid. It's all added up to some good victories for us."
Kings goalie Jonathan Quick did not play Wednesday in San Jose but will play tonight as LA looks to build on its best start to a season in 10 years.
Kings captain Dustin Brown ended a 14-game goal-scoring drought on Wednesday, and center Anze Kopitar scored his first goal in 13 games.
Tonight’s matchup is the fourth between the division rivals this season. The road team has yet to lose, and the teams have combined to score 25 goals.
Coyotes left wing Taylor Pyatt, the eighth overall pick in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft, has scored a goal in each of the past three games.
Kings center Jarret Stoll has scored a goal in each of the past three games, and he has notched six points in his past five games.
The Coyotes will play minus defenseman Ed Jovanovski. The NHL on Wednesday suspended Jovanovski for two games for his check on Minnesota's Andrew Ebbett in Monday's game.
The Coyotes, who are looking to end an 0-for-18 power-play slump, have scored one power-play goal in each of the first three games vs. LA this season.
The Kings do not allow opponents to rally for victories. LA is 13-0-0 in the games in which they've led after two periods.
"We feel like we owe them one (defeat), and we want to keep this streak alive so we have to get a win."