Jonathan Bernier recorded his third NHL shutout and Jarret Stoll converted a penalty to Phoenix's Rostislav Klesla into a power-play goal with 7:47 remaining, leading the Los Angeles Kings to a 1-0 victory over the Coyotes on Thursday night.
Klesla, playing his second gave with Phoenix after a trade with Columbus on Monday, was sent off for high-sticking Anze Kopitar 41 seconds before Stoll beat Ilya Bryzgalov through a screen with a one-timer from the left point on the Kings' 18th and final shot of the game.
The Coyotes have lost a season-worst five straight after an eight-game winning streak that put them atop the Pacific Division for 10 days. They were coming off a frustrating 3-2 home loss Tuesday night in which Radim Vrbata got a hooking penalty with 13 seconds left in the third period and Dallas' Jamie Benn burned them on the power play with 5 seconds remaining.
Coming off a sobering 7-4 home loss to Detroit on Monday in which Jonathan Quick surrendered six goals on 24 shots before getting pulled in the third period, the Kings went with Bernier in net. The rest of the team got the message — at least defensively — and held Phoenix to one shot on net through the first 14 minutes. Bernier finished with 25 saves in his 18th start of the season.
The victory put the Kings into a three-way tie with Phoenix and Chicago for fourth place in the Western Conference playoff race. Los Angeles is 12-2-3 since a 2-0 home loss to the Coyotes on Jan. 20, which capped a 2-10-0 slide by the Kings.
Bryzgalov, who shut out the Kings on Jan. 20 at Staples Center with 36 saves, faced only four shots in the opening period — one of them Justin Williams' tricky 25-foot deflection of Willie Mitchell's wrist shot from the left point at 10:56 of the period.
Right wing Dustin Penner, who won a Stanley Cup ring with Anaheim in 2007, made his Kings debut after joining the club in a trade from Edmonton on Monday. He became the 22nd player to appear in a regular-season game with both Southern California teams — and he did it a year to the day that Jason Blake became the 20th when he suited up for the Ducks. Last March, Lubomir Visnovsky became the 21st on that list.
Center Martin Hanzal, whose disputed goal with an obvious high stick was upheld by video replay when the Coyotes beat the Kings 2-0 on Jan. 20 in Los Angeles, was scratched because of an undisclosed lower-body injury.
NOTES: Phoenix C Eric Belanger played in his 700th regular-season game. His first 328 were with the Kings. ... Only once in their last 15 games have the Coyotes scored more than three goals — a 4-3 victory against Atlanta. ... Bryzgalov has been in goal for all five games between the teams this season, with the Coyotes holding a 3-2 advantage. The final regular-season meeting is April 6 at Los Angeles. ... Quick's next two victories will make him the first goalie in Kings history with consecutive 30-win seasons. ... Phoenix RW Lee Stempniak, who had six goals against Los Angeles in the previous four meetings this season, is mired in a 17-game drought going back to his two-goal effort against the Kings in a 4-3 road loss on Jan. 22. Stempniak had only two goals in 15 career games against them prior to this season. ... Stoll needs two goals to give the Kings six 20-goal scorers in one season for the first time since 1992-93, when they went to the Stanley Cup Finals for the only time in franchise history. ... Kopitar hasn't scored a goal in his last nine games against Phoenix, and Dustin Brown has played seven straight games against the Coyotes without one. The duo has combined for 41 goals this season. ... The Coyotes' penalty-killing unit has allowed 10 goals in 23 short-handed situations over the last five games. ... Friday is Stempniak's 28th birthday and Kings C Brad Richardson's 26th.
(This version CORRECTS Kings 1, Coyotes 0. Corrects Bernier's save total to 25 in fourth paragraph.)