The Arizona Coyotes went into Las Vegas last night hoping for their first win against the expansion Vegas Golden Knights. It would be a tough match. While the Coyotes have been better as of late, Vegas is leading the Pacific Division and has an All-Star goalie. The Coyotes would need to play a tight game like they did against the Tampa Bay Lightning if they were hoping to win, and thankfully they did.
Arizona played an extremely solid game against the Golden Knights. Kevin Connauton notched two goals, including the game winner just over fifteen minutes into the second period, and Richard Panik scored giving him points in six of the past seven games. Christian Dvorak, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, and Clayton Keller all recorded assists on the night. all three players that Arizona needs to generate offense.
Unlike the Desert Dogs, the Los Angeles Kings are deep in the playoff race. While LA is currently on the inside looking out they are by no means a lock to make it to the post season. With five games left to play the Kings currently have 91 points, which is good, but the Western Conference is so tight it may not be good enough. The Anaheim Ducks are tied for points but behind in ROW (regulation plus overtime wins), and the Colorado Avalanche are right behind the Ducks with 90 points. If Colorado and Anaheim surge and Los Angeles falls flat in the final few games they may miss the playoffs for the second season in a row.
After missing the playoffs last year it was interesting to see where the Kings would end up. A lot of attention was on Anze Kopitar, who responded to being named captain by having the worst full season of his career. Kopitar really managed to turn it around this year though, with 34 goals he is tied for a career high in goals in a regular season, and his 54 assists is a career high. The man that Kopitar replaced as captain Dustin Brown has also managed to turn it around, and is having his first 20+ goal season for the first time since 2011-12.
In net for the Kings they have longtime goaltender Jonathon Quick, with some of the best stats of his career. He currently has a .923 save percentage, second best of his career, although he is allowing slightly more goals then normal with a 2.38 goals against average. Quick is a tough goalie to score on and if he can keep up his play Los Angeles could go on a deep playoff run again.
The Kings are on the first game of a back-to-back it will be interesting to see if they decide to start Quick tonight or save him for the game against Anaheim tomorrow. If they go with their new backup, Jack Campbell, instead it could be a contest between Darcy Kuemper and the goalie that replaced him. That's assuming the Coyotes start Kuemper after Antti Raanta played last night.