Coyotes' Home Ice Hopes Dashed In Loss To LA Kings

A playoff spot will be very hard to lose, but home-ice advantage doesn't seem to be in the cards for Phoenix.

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Coyotes Fail To Clinch Playoff Berth, Fall To Kings In Shootout

 

At one point, it looked like the Coyotes were going to make a strong case for a Pacific Division title. Now, with just two games left, Phoenix is just hoping for a spot in the playoffs.

With a chance to clinch a playoff berth and jump into the No. 4 seed in a tight Western Conference, the Coyotes were unable to best the division rival Los Angeles Kings, who defeated the Yotes 3-2 in the shootout, clinching that spot for themselves.

In what was a battle of two strong goaltenders, the Coyotes were just unable to capitalize on their shootout opportunities, as well as the 31 shots they fired on Jonathan Quick that were saved.

Los Angeles struck first on Wednesday, on a goal that came courtesy of Jarret Stoll, just over halfway through the opening frame. Stoll and Dustin Brown crashed the Phoenix net, leaving little that Ilya Bryzgalov could do to stop the scoring chance.

However, it would be the Coyotes who came storming back at the end of the first period.

With a bit of dump-and-chase, the Coyotes would set up their first goal of the game. Vernon Fiddler raced to the puck, found Taylor Pyatt behind the net, who fed it to Lee Stempniak in the slot for the equalizer.

The trio would take care of the rest of the offense in this one for Phoenix, combining for the Yotes' second goal as well. This one came after Quick gave up a juicy rebound on a shot from Stempniak, which Taylor Pyatt knocked home for the 2-1 lead.

But even without one of their biggest offensive forces, Anze Kopitar, the Kings would salvage enough offense to strike back. Off of another rush into the Coyote zone, Wayne Simmonds dished it to Kyle Clifford, who quickly flicked it past Bryzgalov to even things up at two apiece.

With the Coyotes going second in the shootout, each team would send all three skaters out for the shootout festivities. The Kings scored on their first two attempts, while Radim Vrbata made his for Phoenix. After Bryzgalov saved a Dustin Brown attempt, it was up to Lauri Korpikoski, who had his shot saved by Quick.

While it's still a longshot for the Coyotes to miss the playoffs, there is that possibility. The only scenario that would portray that is if they lose both of their two remaining games, Anaheim and Chicago both win at least one game, and the Stars win all three of their remaining games.

The scenario for the Coyotes to make it into the postseason is much more simple. Beat the Sharks.

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Coyotes Aim To Clinch Playoff Berth Against Kings In Los Angeles

Since the Dallas Stars didn't do the Coyotes any favors and won on Tuesday night, Phoenix will look to clinch a playoff berth with a win over the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday. The Yotes head into Wednesday's affair tied with the Kings at 96 points, but the Coyotes' own the tiebreakers with LA, leaving them in fifth. 

The Coyotes will inch closer to being completely healthy heading into the postseason, with a trio of guys set to return against the Kings. Ed Jovanovski and Lauri Korpikoski are both expected to come back from their respective injuries, while Taylor Pyatt is expected to also play after missing Friday's game.

The injury news isn't so good for the Kings, who recently lost a key player in forward Anze Kopitar. LA's offense has struggled without its star forward, scoring just seven goals in four games, including only one in their most recent 6-1 loss to the San Jose Sharks.

Phoenix's biggest problem recently has been their inability get off to a strong start in games. That was especially evident in their shootout loss to Colorado on Friday. That loss makes Wednesday's game a crucial one, with an opportunity to jump back into the No. 4 spot to the winner in Los Angeles.

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