Kings Begin Home-And-Home Set With Coyotes At Staples Center

(Sports Network) - Offense has been hard to come by for the Los Angeles Kings as of late. Things won't get any easier if Ryan Smyth is forced to miss tonight's Pacific Division battle against the Phoenix Coyotes at the Staples Center that opens a home-and-home set. The Kings have been held to a pair of goals or less in six of their nine games this month. That is part of the reason they have lost nine of their past 11 games to fall into last place in the division and tied for 12th overall in the Western Conference.

Smyth is tied with Justin Williams and Dustin Brown for the club lead with 17 goals and sits tied for fifth with 29 points. However, he left Wednesday's practice in pain after taking a teammate's slap shot off his leg. "That's what happens when you practice the power play," Kings coach Terry Murray told his club's website. "Power play and penalty killing. I've seen it happen many, many times. You get that shot that gets away, and someone gets hurt. I've seen it up to the face, and it can do a lot of damage. ... He turned around, and it got him in the hamstring, it looked like."

While Smyth was injured, the Kings did get forward Wayne Simmonds back on the ice Wednesday and he could play tonight. Simmonds has missed the last two games with a lower-body injury, including Tuesday's 2-1 setback in St. Louis. Kyle Clifford scored and Jonathan Quick was decent with 24 saves, but did allow the game-winner on a soft shot from the right circle with 6:47 left in regulation.

"Bad goal [I allowed] at the end of the game," a dejected Quick said. Having lost back-to-back road games, Los Angeles now returns home for the first time since wrapping up a 2-6-0 homestand last Saturday. That residency dropped the Kings to 15-8-1 at the Staples Center this year. The Coyotes also bring a two-game slide into this game and will try to avoid dropping three in a row for the first time since Nov. 5-8. Phoenix's most recent setback came on Tuesday, a 5-2 home loss to Nashville.

Radim Vrbata and Lee Stempniak scored for Phoenix, which has dropped two straight on the heels of a four-game win streak to close out a four-game homestand. Ilya Bryzgalov yielded all five goals against 21 shots in the losing effort. "They played a solid game and they made it tough on us," said Stempniak. "We didn't do enough things right, and in the end, they outplayed us."

While Ed Jovanovski was again out of the lineup with a lower-body injury, fellow blueliner Michal Rozsival made his Coyotes debut after being acquired from the New York Rangers last week. He had been out with a rib injury. David Schlemko missed the game after taking a hit to the head from San Jose's Scott Nichol in Monday's loss. Schlemko is currently on injured reserve, while Nichol was suspended four games by the league.

Phoenix has won three straight on the road and sits third in the division, six points back of first-place Dallas. The Coyotes are sixth overall in the West. The Coyotes have won four straight over the Kings, including both meetings so far this year. Phoenix has also won four of six and seven of its last 10 in Los Angeles and will host the Kings on Saturday.

Bryzgalov has excellent career numbers versus the Kings, going 13-4-2 with a 2.41 goals-against average, while Quick is 5-7-1 with a 3.02 GAA versus Phoenix.

For more information on tonight's game, be sure to read Jewels From The Crown.

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