By Dave Vest
The Coyotes will conclude a four-game trip tonight with a game against the Los Angeles Kings at the Staples Center. The puck drops at 8:30 p.m. (Arizona time).
Phoenix (19-17-4) will enter the game looking to rebound from a 4-1 loss at St. Louis on Tuesday night. The Coyotes trail the Kings by three points in the tightly packed Pacific Division standings.
Goalie Mike Smith made 27 games in Tuesday's game, his first after missing six games because of a lower-body injury. Smith, who has stopped 57 of 61 shots in two games vs. LA this season, is expected to be back in goal tonight. For his career, Smith owns a 6-2-2 record and a 1.62 goals-against average vs the Kings.
The Coyotes are being led offensively by forward Radim Vrbata, who has scored three goals in the past four periods. Vrbata already has matched his goal total from last season (19) in just 40 games.
Coyotes forward Raffi Torres scored twice in last month's loss at the Staples Center, but he will not play in this game as he completes a two-game suspension for charging Wild defenseman Nate Prosser on New Year’s Eve.
Photo by Getty Images.
The Kings (19-14-7) will enter the game looking to stretch their season-high point streak to nine games.
LA has posted a 4-0-3 record under new Head Coach Darryl Sutter, who replaced Terry Murray on Dec. 20.
Center Anze Kopitar, who ended a career-high 17-game goal drought on Saturday, is leading the Kings with 36 points and 25 assists. Center Mike Richards is the top goal scorer with 13.
LA hasn't allowed a power-play goal during its eight-game point streak and ranks second in the NHL in penalty killing at 88.4 percent.
Goalie Jonathan Quick is 5-0-2 with a 1.37 goals-against average in his last seven games, and he has stopped 90 of 96 shots vs. the Coyotes this season.
Coyotes center Kyle Chipchura has notched three of his seven assists this season in the past three games.
Kings center Anze Kopitar is riding a two-game point streak and leads the team with 36 points and 25 assists.
Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett began his NHL coaching career as an assistant with the Los Angeles Kings from 1999-2002 under then Head Coach Andy Murray.
Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle has played in 213 consecutive games. Dale Hawerchuk holds the franchise mark for consecutive games played (475).
Today's game will be broadcast on Fox Sports Arizona Plus and XTRA Sports 910 AM at 8:30 p.m. Click here to see the Fox Sports Arizona Plus Channel Finder. For in-game updates via Twitter, follow @coyotesgameday.