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Kings will host meaningful two-game series against Coyotes

Kings will host meaningful two-game series against Coyotes

While a midseason meeting with the Arizona Coyotes might not normally be a marquee event, the upcoming two-game set with the Kings hosting the Coyotes might be the most critical contests of their season to date.

Having just dropped two straight games and five out of six over all to sixth-place San Jose, the Kings next enter a two-game set with the West’s final playoff team, for now, Arizona.

Should the Kings win both games in regulation, they would be three points behind Arizona in the standings and be well within striking distance of a playoff berth. Kings Coach Todd McLellan has said his team is aware of the standings, but has stayed focused on imminent tasks of preparation and execution.

“This is going to sound very cliché-ish, they’re all important. It doesn’t matter whether the team is next to you in the standings or not,” McLellan said. “When you’re a seven or eight team division, and four are going to make it, every night is a four-point game.”

The downside for the Kings is that they have not won consecutive games since Feb. 24, and have had regulation winning streaks just three times this season (two games twice and one three-game surge). The Kings have also not gotten ideal results from three-point games this year: of their eight games that have reached overtime or a shootout, the Kings have won just two.

The Kings have largely continued to alternate goalies, though Cal Petersen has three wins and four performances with a .940 save percentage or better in his last five appearances. Jonathan Quick has one win in his last five starts, and only one game with a save percentage above .900.

So might McLellan start riding the hot hand more down the stretch?

“We’ve done that in small portions during the year. Sometimes our hand was forced due to injury or illness or COVID,” McLellan said. “Yes, we would like to get into that situation, but when you look at the number of games we play, I’ve said it all along, both of them are important and will continue to be important.”

Arizona had won four of its last five games entering Sunday’s meeting with the Ducks. Prior to that, they weathered a five-game losing streak, and in their one recent loss they surrendered nine goals to the Colorado Avalanche.

With both Darcy Kuemper and Antti Raanta injured, the Coyotes have been relying on third-string goalie Adin Hill. Hill made his sixth straight start Sunday, having won five of his six previous appearances.

Wingers Phil Kessel and Clayton Keller lead the Coyotes in scoring with 28 points apiece entering Sunday’s action. Kessel has been scorching of late, producing three multi-point efforts in his last five outings, including a hat trick.

Arizona at Kings

When: 7 p.m. Monday/7 p.m. Wednesday

Where: Staples Center (no in-person attendance).

TV/Radio: Bally Sports West//iHeartRadio

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