Tue, 13 Apr 2021

Stumbling Kings try to slow streaking Coyotes

Field Level Media
07 Apr 2021, 06:05 GMT+10

The Arizona Coyotes continue to receive pivotal contributions from several sources, so it will be no surprise Wednesday night if someone new steps up with a monumental performance in Los Angeles against the Kings.

Arizona won the opener of the two-game set 5-2 on Monday night, getting a hat trickfrom Michael Bunting, who was playing in just his ninth career NHL game and fourth this season.

Bunting's performance came one night after Jakob Chychrun produced his first NHL hat trick in a 3-2 overtime win at the Anaheim Ducks, becoming the eighth defenseman in league history to complete a hat trick with an OT goal.

The Coyotes have won six of their past seven games, and Adin Hill has started all seven in goal. Hill opened the season No. 3 on the depth chart behind Darcy Kuemper and Antti Raanta, both of whom are injured.

"He's always had the heart and the battle," Arizona coach Rick Tocchet said of Hill.

During their current three-game winning streak, the Coyotes leaped into fourth place in the West Division and have expanded their cushion over fifth place to five points.

"We know what's at stake during this stretch," Arizona forward Conor Garland said after assisting on two goals Monday, giving him 20 assists for the season.

The Kings have been tumbling in the opposite direction in the past two weeks.

Los Angeles hit the 30-game mark on March 21 with a 13-11-6 mark, just five points out of the playoffs after knocking off the Vegas Golden Knights 3-1. But since then, the Kings have lost six of seven to fall nine points back of Arizona for the final playoff spot in the West.

"Let's face it. We don't deserve to be in the playoffs if we don't have the intensity to play to get to the playoffs," Kings coach Todd McLellan said. "It's as simple as that."

Notably, five of those defeats have come against San Jose and Arizona, which are just ahead of them in the standings.

McLellan said he was disappointed with the lack of preparation the Kings showed Monday and the shortage of intensity, which allowed the Coyotes to jump to a 3-0 lead in the first eight minutes.

"You're out of the game and then you decide to play?" McLellan said. "That's ass backwards."

The Kings have several players mired in scoring slumps.

Center Gabriel Vilardi had six goals in the first 21 games, but he's scored none in the past 16.

Jeff Carter has one goal in the past 15 games, and Anze Kopitar and Adrian Kempe each have one goal in the past 12.

Kings defenseman Drew Doughty also showed his frustration after the loss Monday, calling on his teammates to show up with a different mindset on Wednesday.

"Act like you've earned your spot in this lineup and on our team, and run with it," he said. "Don't sit around hoping you're going to get more shifts."

Arizona hit the 30-game mark with a 12-13-5 record, but the Coyotes have won seven of nine since then.

They have been aided by a major skid by the St. Louis Blues, who have lost seven in a row and 12 of 14, falling five points back of the Coyotes for the final playoff spot.

--Field Level Media

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