By JUSTIN EINHORN
STATS Senior Editor
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.