By Dave Vest
LOS ANGELES -- The Coyotes will try to earn a much-needed victory tonight when they face the Los Angeles Kings in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals. The puck drops at 6 p.m. (Arizona time).
Phoenix trails the best-of-seven series, 2-0, and is looking to change the momentum in this series before it’s too late.
"We can't wait for this game,” Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle said after Thursday’s morning skate. "We want to play bad. We wish it was now. You want to get out there and redeem yourself, and we know we didn’t play our best the first two games (so) we’ve got to come back out here tonight and prove what we've got.”
Mike Smith, who has given up seven goals on 87 shots in this series, will be back between the pipes for Phoenix, which has scored just five goals in the past five games.
"I think we have a lot more to give in here," Smith said after Game 2. "When you get beat and you play well, you can tip your hat to the other team. When you get beat the way we're getting beat right now, that's a lot more frustrating.”
He added, "We start with one win right now and that's all we can worry about. We can't win four games in one game. We're not looking too far ahead and this series is far from over."
The Coyotes will play minus center Martin Hanzal, whom the NHL on Wedensday suspended for one game for boarding LA captain Dustin Brown in Game 2.
“He's a big guy that, for most of the years, has centered our top line," Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett said. “It is what it is. We've got to focus on the players that are coming in, on a game plan that we feel we can be successful with. We’d certainly like to have Marty in there, but it's not a factor tonight, so we have to concentrate on the other options.”
"We've got to work hard as a group and play our game and get the job the done," Langkow said. "I haven't played with (Vrbata) at all except for a little bit in the third (period) at the end of last game. I've played with (Pyatt) a little bit. I know what kind of players they are. (Pyatt) is real good down low and obviously (Vrbata) is a great shooter. We just need to work hard and make things click."
Like Pouliot, Coyotes enforcer Paul Bissonnette also is expected to make his debut in this series tonight.
Meanwhile, Phoenix again will play without injured defenseman Adrian Aucoin, who hasn’t played since Game 5 of the series vs. Nashville.
The Kings will enter the game with a franchise-record seven-game playoff winning streak. LA is only the third No. 8 seed to advance past the second round (Edmonton in 2006 and Montreal in 2010) and the first No. 8 seed to eliminate both a No. 1 and No. 2 seed in the same season.
Photo by Getty Images.
Jonathan Quick, who stopped 309 of 325 shots in his first 11 playoff games this season, will be back in goal after posting a shutout in Game 2.
Despite outscoring the Coyotes 4-0 in Game 2, Kings Head Coach Darryl Sutter is looking for a better effort from his players tonight.
“I wasn't crazy about our last game because I thought we had guys that didn't play very well and they're going to have to play a heck of a lot better for us to match up against those guys tonight,” Sutter said after Thursday's morning skate.
The Kings will again play without forward Colin Fraser. Kyle Clifford is expected to again replace Fraser, who has left the team temporarily because of a family matter.
Tippett is hoping the change of venue will help the Coyotes forget about the first two games.
"They're all important (games), but when you lose two in a row, the urgency continues to mount,” Tippett said. You know, if you're dwelling about the past two, you're not thinking about the one you have to take care of next. Our group is pretty good that way."
► Click here to watch Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett's press conference before Thursday's morning skate.
Coyotes defenseman Derek Morris is leading the team in points (two) in this series and co-leading with six shots on goal.
Kings center Jeff Carter notched his first career playoff hat trick in Game 2, and the first hat trick for LA in the playoffs since Wayne Gretzky in 1993.
Seven of the past nine games played between these teams at the Staples Center have been decided by one goal (dating to 2009-10 season).
The Coyotes have killed 16 straight opposition power plays on the road. That's the best road PK among the final four playoff teams.
Game 3 will be televised on NBC Sports Network and will be broadcast on XTRA Sports 910 AM at 6 p.m. For in-game updates via Twitter, follow @coyotesgameday.