NHL

Kings start second-half playoff push against Coyotes

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Los Angeles Kings and Arizona Coyotes came out of the All-Star break last season believing they would secure postseason berths.

While the Kings had plenty of experience to draw upon, the Coyotes were feeling their way through an unfamiliar playoff push and it showed when the teams met Feb. 2 at Gila River Arena.

L.A. beat Arizona 6-2 and rolled to a 102-point season while the Coyotes dropped 11 of 14 February games and fell off the playoff pace.

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"They came in and they played like a real determined team, and we played like a young team," said Coyotes coach Dave Tippett, who will face the Kings again Tuesday at Gila River Arena in the Coyotes' first of 34 remaining games after the All-Star break. "We're going to try to make sure that doesn't happen again."

The goals are modified this season. Los Angeles is one spot out of the Western Conference's final wild-card spot as the season resumes.

The Coyotes are one of two teams whose playoff hopes are all but dead, but Arizona has won three straight games, it has stabilized its center position with the addition of Alex Burmistrov (six points in six games) and it has seen growth from rookies Christian Dvorak, Brendan Perlini, Lawson Crouse, Jakob Chychrun and Christian Fischer.

"We want to continue to build on what we've done over the past month," said Coyotes goalie Mike Smith, who will start against the Kings. "We've done some really good things to make our team better and to give ourselves a more consistent chance to be in hockey games and to win hockey games. We've gotten some results from that lately."

Los Angeles will need a push to secure a playoff berth in the jumbled Western Conference. The Kings were one spot out of the final wild-card position as play resumed, and they received the news they feared last week when general manager Dean Lombardi announced that goalie Jonathan Quick would not be back before at least early March as he continues to rehab a groin injury that has sidelined him since Oct. 12.

Peter Budaj is 22-14 with a .919 save percentage and a 2.06 goals-against average while filling Quick's skates.

"He has been awesome," Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said. "Everyone wants to blame where we are in the standings because we have guys injured, like Quick and (Tyler) Toffoli, but Budaj has been great night in and night out. He's really deserving of the accolades he's getting. Without him, we wouldn't be where we are right now."

Toffoli (lower body), defenseman Matt Greene (back) and center Nic Dowd (lower body) and are all on injured reserve, with Greene's IR designation coming Monday. There is a good chance that Dowd will come off IR and play against the Coyotes.

Arizona got some good news when its only two injured players skated Monday before practice.

Center Brad Richardson (broken right tibia and fibula) is still out indefinitely, but left winger Max Domi (hand) will start practicing with the team on Tuesday and will begin playing as soon as he's back in game shape.

Domi hasn't played since breaking his hand in a fight against Calgary on Dec. 8.