Teetering on elimination, Kings to face Coyotes

The Los Angeles Kings enter Sunday with their playoff hopes dangling by a thread, and even that could be snipped by the time they take the ice against the visiting Arizona Coyotes at Staples Center.

The Nashville Predators are the only team the Kings can overtake for the second wild-card spot out of the Western Conference, and Nashville can clinch earlier Sunday by earning at least a point at the St. Louis Blues.

And if the Predators should lose in regulation to the Blues, the Kings would still need to beat the Coyotes, win their remaining four games and hope Nashville loses its remaining three in regulation.

Arizona hurt the Kings' playoff chances by winning the last two games between the teams, both in Los Angeles. The Coyotes scored a 5-3 win at Staples Center on Feb. 16, when the Kings came into the day just one point out of a playoff spot. The Coyotes then won 3-2 in a shootout on March 14, which kept the Kings four points back of a playoff spot.

"We've had our troubles with Arizona already this year. They play hard," said Kings assistant coach John Stevens. "They've got a defense that can really skate pucks out of trouble, and that's something we've got to be aware of. They generate a lot on the rush and they really put a lot of pressure on you when they do get pucks in behind you. On top of that, their special teams have been an issue. We've had some trouble with their power play."

The Kings have killed off 79 of the last 86 power plays they have faced overall, the best rate in the NHL in that span.

Arizona ended a four-game losing streak and produced a season-high goal total with a 6-3 win Friday against the Washington Capitals, who had won six straight.

"I think it's hard for teams that play against us right now, they don't know what to expect from us because we're already out of the playoffs," Arizona center Alexander Burmistrov told the Arizona Republic. "But we, on our side, are battling to try to show the coaches, the management, we want to play and we want to be here. So it's tough to play against us I think."

Arizona forward Shane Doan returned against Washington after missing seven games with a lower-body injury and assisted on the first goal by Burmistrov. Doan, who will be completing his 21st season with the Coyotes, said he will have a discussion with management regarding his future with the team at the end of the season.

Doan has 37 goals and 81 points in his career against the Kings, more than he has produced against any other team.

Arizona goaltender Mike Smith has been ill, so it's unclear who will start against Los Angeles.

Kings forward Jarome Iginla will pass Alex Delvecchio for 12th place on the NHL all-time list when he appears in his 1,549th game Sunday. His next goal would be the 626th of his career, which would move him past Joe Sakic for 15th on the NHL all-time list.
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