COYOTES (36-27-13) at KINGS (44-26-6)
7:30PM PT, TV: NBC SPORTS NETWORK; RADIO: AM 1150
COYOTE FINALE: This is the fifth and final meeting with the Phoenix Coyotes this season, the third at STAPLES Center. The Kings are 1-3-0 against Phoenix this season, getting outscored 14-11. This is the second to last regular season game at STAPLES Center, where the Kings are 22-14-3 in 39 games.
THE CLINCHER: Things can be made certain tonight. If the Kings beat the Coyotes in regulation time, they’ll clinch their fifth-consecutive NHL playoff berth, locking up the Pacific Division’s third and final guaranteed playoff spot. The Coyotes trail the Kings by nine points, but for Phoenix, everything is resting on the wild-card.
BIGGER BECAUSE OF TEXAS: Each of the Coyotes’ remaining six games will be their biggest of the season, their biggest is tonight in Los Angeles. The Dallas Stars booted Phoenix from the playoff tree Tuesday night in their 5-0 win against the Washington Capitals, matching the Coyotes in points (85), but leading them 34-30 in regulation / overtime losses, the points tie-breaker.
LEAD AND HOLD: The Kings lost for just the second time this season when leading after two periods Monday night against Minnesota. Up 2-1 after 40 minutes, the Wild buried two goals within 1:02, while the Kings registered a lowly five shots on goal during the final period.
The Kings’ only other loss when leading after two periods this season came in Phoenix’s last visit on March 17. The Kings are 25-2-0 this season when leading after 40 minutes.
PHOENIX PHINALE: The Coyotes’ franchise is likely playing their final game against the Kings tabbed with the location surname ‘Phoenix’ tonight. Starting next season, the franchise, the original Winnipeg Jets, will be officially regarded to as the Arizona Coyotes.
JEFF HALPERN?: The Coyotes last visited on March 17, when the Kings scored three unanswered goals, but allowed Phoenix to score twice in the third period to fall 4-3.
Former King Jeff Halpern, who played in 16 regular season games and six playoff games in a Los Angeles uniform in 2010, netted the game-winning goal; barely getting the puck past the goal line, beating Jonathan Quick in a sequence that initially looked to be a miraculous save.
Tanner Pearson kicked off the Kings’ three-goal scoring run with his second career NHL goal, beating Phoenix’s Mike Smith on an odd-man rush.
PEARSON PIERCES SMITH
WE’RE DOING IT LIVE: It’s just going to be a little bit different, again. Catch the live broadcast and play-by-play of tonight’s bout with the Coyotes on the NBC Sports Network at 7:30 PM PST.
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