(AP) — The Los Angeles Kings have balanced their high-scoring offense with solid defense and goaltending during their most recent winning streak. The Phoenix Coyotes haven’t had so much trouble scoring in more than three years.
The Kings search for their fifth straight win and finish a stretch with seven of nine on the road Wednesday night against the struggling Coyotes.
Los Angeles (22-12-1) has outscored its opponents 16-3 during its four-game winning streak, which includes two shutouts by Jonathan Quick.
Quick made 24 saves in a 4-0 win against San Jose on Monday, improving to 18-7-1 with four shutouts and a 1.86 goals-against average, which ranks second in the NHL. However, he’s 0-2-1 with a 2.63 GAA in his last three starts against Phoenix.
Against the Sharks, the Kings put a season-high 37 shots on net and scored all four goals in the third period. Dustin Brown scored twice, giving him eight points in the last four and 19 in December – tied for third in the league behind Sidney Crosby and Henrik Sedin.
Los Angeles, which is 9-2-1 this month after losing seven of eight to close November, is back up to fourth in the Western Conference standings.
“It’s a very competitive conference and every point is going to matter at the end of the season,” Quick told the team’s official website. “It’s going to take 98, 99 points, possibly, just to get into the playoffs. So we’re going to continue with this momentum, bring it to Phoenix and hopefully get two points there.”
If Phoenix (16-12-7) continues its scoring slump, earning a third straight road victory may not be too much trouble for the Kings.
The Coyotes gave up three first-period goals in a 3-1 loss Tuesday against Anaheim. They’ve scored just a single goal in four straight games, losing three of them, and have dropped five of seven.
The last time Phoenix scored one goal or less in four straight was Nov. 10-17, 2007.
“Our last few games we haven’t been lighting up the scoreboard,” coach Dave Tippett said. “To go down three early, that’s a big climb back for us.”
Shane Doan scored for the first time in seven games for the team’s lone goal Tuesday. Lee Stempniak had a hat trick in the Coyotes’ 4-2 win Oct. 21 against the Kings, but he’s scored only five goals in more than two months since and has no points in his last seven games.
Phoenix is the only West team without a double-digit goal scorer and one of two – along with New Jersey – in the NHL.
“If you look at the stats, we have some players the last 10 games who are non-existent,” Tippett said. “They’re players that we rely on to at least chip in offensively.”
Goalie Ilya Bryzgalov returned Tuesday from a five-game absence due to an upper-body injury, but suffered his sixth loss in eight games after winning his previous six starts.
Tippett said he was undecided if Bryzgalov or former Kings netminder Jason LaBarbera would get the nod against Los Angeles. LaBarbera blanked Dallas with 30 saves in a 1-0 win Sunday, but Bryzgalov is 10-2-1 with a 2.14 GAA in his last 13 starts against the Kings.