Coyotes-Kings Preview

The Associated Press

While they have struggled in opposing arenas, the Los Angeles Kings continue to dominate at home.

That doesn't bode well for the Phoenix Coyotes.

Seeking a 10th win in 11 games at Staples Center, the Kings play the first of two consecutive home contests against the Coyotes, who try to avoid a fourth straight road shutout Monday night.

After falling 4-3 at San Jose on Thursday, Los Angeles (15-10-2) salvaged a home-and-home split with Saturday's 5-2 victory. Kyle Clifford snapped an 11-game pointless drought with a pair of goals, and backup Jonathan Bernier made 20 saves to improve 6-0-0 in seven starts.

"We kind of have that New England Patriots mindset, where we don't want to lose two in a row to them," said Clifford, whose team has gone 5-8-1 on the road. "We definitely wanted to tighten up defensively - especially after what happened two nights ago. We knew what our game plan was, and defensive-zone play was right up there."

The Kings have outscored opponents 40-20 during a 9-1-0 run on their own ice, taking the last three there by a 14-5 margin.

The Coyotes (13-11-4) haven't visited Los Angeles since a 2-0 victory May 20 - their only win in last year's Western Conference finals. These teams have split two matchups in Phoenix this season, with the Coyotes taking the most recent one 5-2 last Tuesday behind Mikkel Boedker's two goals and Mike Smith's 31 saves.

"Last year is over with. It's something they did, and we can't think about that," said Boedker, who leads the team with 18 points. "But it's always good to beat a rival and it's always good to beat L.A."

The Coyotes have lost five of seven in Los Angeles, including the postseason, and they know these next two games present difficult challenges. They face the Kings again Tuesday.

"We've planned for this, so hopefully the days that we've taken as rest days instead of practice pay off now," coach Dave Tippett told the team's official website.

Phoenix has suffered four shutouts during a 1-4-2 stretch on the road, including a franchise-worst three in a row. The 1967-68 Oakland Seals were the last team to go without a goal in four straight road games.

After falling 3-0 to St. Louis in Thursday's opener of this season-high four-game trip, the Coyotes were handed a 1-0 shootout loss by Columbus on Saturday. Smith earned his fourth shutout for Phoenix, which outshot the Blue Jackets 39-23.

"Our effort through the 65 minutes was very strong," Tippett said. "We put that many shots on net; you just need to get a little luck around the net."

Smith has gone 9-2-1 lifetime versus the Kings in the regular season with a 1.65 goals-against average - his second-lowest mark against any West opponent. He's allowed seven goals in seven starts at Los Angeles including the conference finals, where he had a 2.46 GAA.

Smith will need to be wary of Kings captain Dustin Brown, who has five goals and two assists over a season-high five-game point streak.

Jonathan Quick has allowed two goals or fewer in all but one of his past eight home starts while going 6-1-1. However, he's given up eight goals on 41 shots in his last two games, and his .851 save percentage in March is the worst of any goaltender to make at least five starts this month.

Bernier has not yielded a goal in 1 1/2 career games against the Coyotes but hasn't faced them in two years.

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