Kings-Coyotes Preview

The Associated Press

He'll look for a vastly improved defensive effort Tuesday night against the visiting Los Angeles Kings, who had a big game offensively in beating Phoenix last week.

The Coyotes (7-3-2) have matched their best start in the past 12 years in terms of point total, tying the 2009-10 team that was 8-4-0. Their 40 goals scored are among the most in the league.

Phoenix has been particularly strong at home, winning 5-4 over Edmonton on Saturday to improve to 4-0-1 there with 21 goals. The Coyotes scored twice on six power-play chances and have capitalized on five of their 18 power-play opportunities at home (27.8 percent).

However, they're also among the NHL leaders in goals allowed with 39.

"Don't get me wrong. I like winning," Tippett said. "Any time you win, you should have a smile on your face. But what I look at is how we're going to win long term. There is just some things in our game that are going to have to improve if we're going to win long term."

Phoenix squandered a two-goal advantage against the Oilers and fell behind 4-3 in the third before rallying. Mike Smith had another shaky effort and has a career-worst 3.17 goals-against average after signing a six-year, $34 million extension.

Smith, pulled after the first period of a 7-4 loss at Los Angeles on Thursday in which he surrendered four goals on 15 shots, has a 4.06 goals-against average in his last five starts against the Kings. The Coyotes have allowed an average of 33.3 shots in those games.

"We've got to be a little better down there," said defenseman Keith Yandle, whose seven assists tie him with Mikkel Boedker and Radim Vrbata for the team lead.

Los Angeles (8-4-0) defeated the Oilers 2-1 in a shootout Sunday, overcoming a strong effort by Edmonton's Richard Bachman, who made 47 saves after being called up from the minors to fill in for the injured Devan Dubnyk. The win was the Kings' fourth in five games.

"When a guy like that gets a call up and gets a chance to play, you expect his best effort," Los Angeles forward Jeff Carter said. "We tried to make it as tough for him as possible, getting bodies and pucks to the net. I thought he played a heck of a game, but we got the two points."

The Kings improved to 5-0 in games past regulation and Jonathan Quick moved to 4-0 in shootouts. Anze Kopitar, who scored the deciding goal in the tiebreaker, recorded his lone goal of the season last week against Phoenix while also collecting two assists.

Kopitar's 47 points versus the Coyotes are his most against team.

Los Angeles has surrendered five goals on 14 power plays over the last three games.

What to Read Next