By Dave Vest
The Coyotes will try to jump over another team in the Western Conference standings tonight when they play the Los Angeles Kings at the Staples Center. The puck drops at 8:30 p.m. (Arizona time).
Phoenix (27-21-9), which is riding a season-high six-game point streak, will enter the game in eighth place in the conference standings, two points behind seventh-place LA (27-19-11).
, who on Monday was named the NHL’s First Star of the Week, will start in goal looking for his career-high sixth win in a row. Smith owns a 6-2-1 record and a 1.55 goals-against average vs. the Kings in his career.
Smith did not play on Monday when Phoenix lost to Vancouver, 2-1 in a shootout, at Rogers Arena. He said he doesn't expect to get too many more games off.
"There's no time for rest now," Smith said. "It's 'Go Time' all the way to the end of the season."
The Coyotes are being led offensively by forward Radim Vrbata
, who ranks ninth in the NHL with 26 goals, and forward Ray Whitney
, who ranks 12th in the League with 35 assists.
Vrbata, Raffi Torres
and Daymond Langkow
each have scored two goals against the Kings this season.
The Coyotes will play minus forward Taylor Pyatt
, who suffered an upper-body injury on his sixth shift vs. Vancouver on Monday night. In Pyatt's place, forward Paul Bissonnette
will be in the lineup for the first time since Jan. 10 – a stretch of 14 games.
|Photo by Getty Images
The Kings last played on Sunday when they beat the Dallas Stars, 4-2, at American Airlines Center. Jordan Nolan and Dwight King both scored their first NHL goals in that game. The two players were recalled from the American Hockey League on Friday.
LA, which has won two straight home games, has posted a 12-5-7 record under new Head Coach Darryl Sutter.
While the Kings have struggled to score goals, All-Star goalie Jonathan Quick has kept them in the playoff race with a 1.81 goals-against average and a .936 save percentage in his last 31 games.
Per usual, LA captain Dustin Brown is delivering hits aplenty; he ranks second in the NHL with 198.
The Kings have been very successful killing penalties lately; opponents are 0 for 18 on power plays since Jan. 23.