Kings-Coyotes Preview

The Los Angeles Kings are desperately hoping their downward

spiral can end in the same place where it began.

Two days after their frustration grew in the opener of this

home-and-home set, the Kings hope things begin heading in the other

direction as they visit the Phoenix Coyotes on Saturday night.

Los Angeles was fourth in the Western Conference and riding a

four-game win streak going into its last trip to Phoenix on Dec.

29, but a 6-3 defeat sent the Kings into a 2-9-0 funk which has

dropped them into a tie for 12th with Columbus.

They have lost three straight, scoring only once in their last

172 minutes, 30 seconds.

“It’s just a tough stretch,” defenseman Matt Greene said. “To

get out of a slump like we’re in, you’ve got to play some good

hockey first. We’re doing that right now, but we’re just not seeing

the results.”

The Kings (24-22-1) have dropped five in a row to the Coyotes

(24-15-9) – three this season – following a 2-0 home loss

Thursday.

The game was scoreless until Martin Hanzal batted a shot over

goalie Jonathan Quick’s shoulder at 8:48 of the second period. That

power-play goal appeared to come on a high stick and replays showed

Hanzal’s blade was above the crossbar, but it was ruled a goal and

officials in Toronto upheld the call after a lengthy review.

Even Hanzal said he was surprised they called it a goal, and

Kings coach Terry Murray didn’t hold back his anger.

“It makes no sense,” Murray said. “I don’t know why we have

video replay in the National Hockey League. If the replay is there

for the review of goals and non-goals … I don’t know.”

Murray saw his team fail to score a power-play goal for the

sixth straight game, matching its longest such drought from last

season. Los Angeles hasn’t gone seven in a row without one since a

nine-game stretch March 4-20, 2003.

The Kings also must be growing increasingly frustrated with Ilya

Bryzgalov, who shut them out Thursday and is 12-2-1 with a 2.06

goals-against average in his last 15 starts against them.

“I think (Bryzgalov) made a few saves not knowing where the puck

was. It’s been going like that for us,” said Kings center Anze

Kopitar, who has one goal in his last 13 games.

Phoenix killed off six Los Angeles power plays and won despite

finishing with 15 shots, its fewest since a 6-0 loss to San Jose on

Nov. 15, 2007.

“It doesn’t matter how many times you shoot the puck if you

score the goals,” Bryzgalov told the Coyotes’ official website. “We

didn’t have much offense because we were killing the penalties, but

we had enough to win.”

Lee Stempniak had the other goal for Phoenix, which avoided

losing three straight for the first time since Nov. 5-8.

Stempniak has three goals and three assists in the past four

games. His only career hat trick came in the first matchup this

season, a 4-2 win Oct. 21 in Phoenix, after failing to score in the

previous nine versus Los Angeles.