Here’s the Associated Press preview of tonight’s Kings-Phoenix game:
Not only do the Phoenix Coyotes need a string of wins in their final five games to have a chance of reaching the postseason, they’ll have to get most of it done on the road.
The Coyotes aim for a second straight victory when they conclude their season series with the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday night at Staples Center.
Phoenix (37-34-6) defeated San Jose 5-4 in overtime at home Tuesday to snap a five-game losing streak, and moved within six points of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
The Coyotes, who are looking to reach the postseason for the first time since 2001-02, will have to keep winning while playing four of their final five games away from home. Three of those contests are against playoff-bound San Jose, Dallas and Anaheim.
Making the road tougher, two other teams – Nashville and Edmonton – are currently between 11th-place Phoenix and eighth-place Vancouver in the conference standings.
After winning only 13 road games last season, Phoenix is 20-15-2 on the road in 2007-08, but has lost two in a row away from Jobing.com Arena.
The Coyotes, though, will try for a fourth consecutive road win over Los Angeles (30-40-7), which is last in the West and eliminated from playoff contention. The Coyotes also own a 6-0-1 edge in the season series with Los Angeles, having outscored the Kings 26-13 in the seven meetings.
Shane Doan and Derek Morris each had a goal and assist Tuesday, and Martin Hanzal scored in overtime for the Coyotes, who won despite blowing a 3-0 lead.
“We’ve had some leads in the few games and let them slip away,” said Doan, who has three goals and six assists in his last four games. “This time, we found a way to take care of the win, and that’s all that mattered.”
Doan has five goals and seven assists versus Los Angeles this season, including a goal and two assists in Phoenix’s 6-5 shootout loss at home last Thursday in the teams’ most recent meeting.
Goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov made 30 saves Tuesday for his first win in his last four decisions. Bryzgalov is 5-1-0 with a 1.67 goals-against average against the Kings this season.
The Coyotes hope to have defenseman Ed Jovanovski on the ice Thursday after he left in the first period against San Jose because of a lacerated calf.
Los Angeles returns home looking to bounce back from a 2-1 shootout loss at Anaheim on Wednesday night. The Kings finished 2-0-1 on a brief road swing that began with the win in Phoenix.
Patrick O’Sullivan recorded his 20th goal Wednesday for his fourth point in three games, while rookie Erik Ersberg made 39 saves for the Kings, who will try to snap a three-game home losing streak Thursday.
Ersberg, who made 35 saves in Los Angeles’ victory over Phoenix last week, is 4-3-3 with a 2.18 GAA since being called up from the minors in late February.
“It’s a great opportunity to come in and play some games,” Ersberg said.
O’Sullivan had two assists against Phoenix last Thursday.