PREVIEW: LA Kings face former goalie Kuemper, Coyotes (6:30p, FOX Sports West)
The Los Angeles Kings moved into third place in the Western Conference on Monday by also shutting out the Canucks, this time by 3-0 as goaltender Jonathan Quick turned aside all 28 shots he faced. Anze Kopitar scored his 28th goal, and Adrian Kempe assisted on Tyler Toffoli‘s 22nd goal and Tanner Pearson 13th. Toffoli also assisted on Pearson’s goal.
The Coyotes are 22-35-11 and own the NHL’s worst record, but they’ve turned it around in the second half of the season and are 4-1-1 in their last six games and 10-3-2 in their past 15. They’re 13-7-6 since the start of the year, beating the Canucks for the second time in five days behind backup goaltender Darcy Kuemper‘s first shutout with Arizona, a 27-save effort.
Kuemper, acquired from the Kings last month, seems to be getting a good look at opposing pucks these days. He’s started the last four Coyotes games due to starter Antti Raanta‘s lower-body injury. He gave up only one goal in the two Coyotes victories against Vancouver, though he was also in net for a 5-2 loss at Colorado on Saturday.
“Every start, I feel more and more comfortable with the team,” said Kuemper, who was 10-1-3 with Los Angeles before the Kings traded him.
If Raanta can’t go again Tuesday night, Kuemper could oppose Jack Campbell, who replaced him as Quick’s backup.
Every game is important right now for the Kings, who have won five of seven and eight of 12 despite being embarrassed 7-2 in a loss to the St. Louis Blues on Saturday night at the Staples Center. Los Angeles is 1-0-1 against the Coyotes this season, losing 3-2 in overtime on Nov. 24 but beating them 6-0 on Feb. 3. The teams play against March 29 in Los Angeles.
“It was a good bounce-back game for us, and two points we really needed,” Toffoli said of the win over Vancouver. “It was huge. We focused on tonight (Monday) and now we’ve got to start worrying about tomorrow (Tuesday), and we’ll do that.”
Kings center Jeff Carter has four goals and two assists in eight games since a Feb. 24 return from a 55-game layoff with an injured tendon in his leg. Carter has seven goals and 11 assists in 29 career games against Arizona.