By Dave Vest
The Coyotes will play the final game of a three-game homestand tonight when they host the Los Angeles Kings at Jobing.com Arena. The puck drops at 7 p.m. (AZ time).
Phoenix last played on Tuesday and lost, 5-2, to the Chicago Blackhawks in a game Head Coach Dave Tippett called "a reality check.” Tippett and General Manager Don Maloney are hoping the team responds the way it did after losing the season opener in similar fashion at San Jose on Oct. 8.
“We’re not a talented enough team to just waltz into a game without a very strict adherence to our game plan,” Maloney said. “I thought we got away from it (on Tuesday) and we looked overwhelmed, like we did in the first game against San Jose… The one encouraging for me is that we did respond very well after the opening night loss in San Jose. I expect the same (tonight)."
will start in goal for the Coyotes (2-2-1). Smith earned his first victory with Phoenix in his last start vs. Winnipeg and has allowed just two goals in the last seven periods he has played. Smith has dominated the Kings in his career, posting a 5-1-0 record and a 1.51 goals-against average against LA.
Coyotes captain Shane Doan
was kept off the scoresheet for the first time this season on Tuesday, but he still leads the team with seven points and co-leads with three goals.
Newcomer Boyd Gordon
has quietly made an impact in several areas. Gordon has won a team-high 61.5 percent of his faceofffs in his first five games with Phoenix. He also leads the team in plus/minus rating at plus-5.
The Coyotes will wear their alternate black sweater tonight for the first time this season. Phoenix has worn that sweater 31 times since its inception and has posted a 21-8-2 record.
Playing its first game in front of the home crowd after a two-week, two-continent road trip, Los Angeles (3-1-1) defeated St. Louis 5-0 on Tuesday.
Nine players recorded at least one point for the Kings in that game. Simon Gagne led the way with two goals and an assist, while Anze Kopitar, Jarret Stoll and Dustin Brown each added a goal and an assist. Jonathan Quick posted a 27-save shutout for his 99th NHL win.
"It's just kind of icing on the cake there," Quick told the Kings' official Web site about the shutout. "At the end of the day, it's two points. That's all it is. We've got to just build off what we did here today and just continue. It's a long season. We're going to take it one game at a time and keep going here."
Quick is 3-0-1 and his 1.20 goals-against average is second-best in the NHL.
The Kings have won three straight games over the Coyotes and are seeking their first four-game winning streak in the series since 2002-03.