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GDT Game 22: Coyotes look to dethrone the Kings at home

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The Coyotes stay in Arizona and host another Pacific Division rival comes to town.

Los Angeles Kings v Arizona Coyotes Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images

Game Preview

The Arizona Coyotes had a big task ahead of them on Saturday. After a disappointing finish to their three-game road trip where they lost to the Minnesota Wild, they were coming back to Arizona to face off against the Calgary Flames, a Pacific Division rival. And since both teams are deep in the hunt for a playoff spot, let’s just say things got heated.

When he wasn’t taking down Matthew Tkachuk, Darcy Kuemper was stellar. The team in front of him helped him out with three goals, but his 37 games gave him his second shutout of the season.

Three Coyotes scored against Calgary, Derek Stepan, Carl Soderberg, and Lawson Crouse. Stepan managed an easy first goal after David Rittich misplayed the puck, while Crouse scored into the empty net. It was good that Crouse got a goal after his play led to Soderberg’s goal in the second.

Arizona’s 3-0 win showed that the best of the Coyotes’ offense and defense, they were again unable to convert on the power play. And while they didn’t need a power play goal to win, they had four opportunities, including almost four straight minutes in the first period. Even if the Coyotes continue to get outstanding goaltending moving forward, the team’s inability to generate points on the man advantage is still a cause for concern.

The Los Angeles Kings are really, really bad this season. They are currently at the bottom of the Pacific Division, and only have eight wins on the season. But considering the Coyotes lost twice to the worst team in the Central Division, they shouldn’t be underestimating anyone this season.

While the Kings’ haven’t won much this season, they are improving as of late. They have won their last three games, including a 4-3 win against the Vegas Golden Knights. The other two wins were a 3-1 win against the Wild, and a 3-2 overtime win against the Detroit Red Wings.

After going big to sign Ilya Kovalchuk as he came back from the NHL after years in the KHL, things seem to have soured between the two. The Kings seem ready to bench Kovalchuk indefinitely, and it remains to be seen when and if he’ll play for the Kings again. Looking back, the Kings signing Kovalchuk was a terrible move for both parties.

Players to Watch

Arizona: Lawson Crouse - Crouse had a goal and an assist against the Flames and a goal against the Wild. He has been playing extremely well with Carl Soderberg this season and could be looking at a good raise after this season.

Los Angeles: Drew Doughty - Like Crouse, Doughty has three points over the past two games. And while he likely wants to send Kuemper a thank you card, he is still one of the Kings’ best defensemen.

Injuries

Arizona: Niklas Hjalmarsson (leg)

Los Angeles: Trevor Lewis (lower body)

Puck Drop

Tonight’s game at Gila River Arena will be at 7:00 pm Arizona time and will air on ESPN+, Fox Sports Arizona Plus, and Fox Sports 910 AM.