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Coyotes hope for success in final four; Kings up first

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The Arizona Coyotes will gather their energy again for one last playoff push as they play their final four games of the regular season.

Arizona will host the Los Angeles Kings on Monday and Wednesday, then conclude its regular season with two games at San Jose next weekend.

At 22-24-6 (50 points) in the West Division, Arizona sits three points behind the fourth-place St. Louis Blues, who hold the final playoff spot in the division.

At issue, though, is that the Blues still have three extra games in hand over Arizona, so even if the Coyotes wrestle the final playoff spot away before their regular season ends, the Blues will have three more chances to earn points beyond next weekend while Arizona waits.

The waiting and watching part is out of their control, but the Coyotes would at least like to arrive at a scenario where they end their schedule in fourth place and can watch their fate being played out on television.

Arizona enters off a heartbreaking 3-2 overtime loss Saturday to the Vegas Golden Knights. The Coyotes salvaged a point after they rallied to tie it with two goals in the third period, including Christian Dvorak’s power-play tally to even the score with 5:12 remaining in regulation.

The Coyotes were close to what seemed like an unreachable goal of defeating the Golden Knights in consecutive games. Vegas arrived in Arizona on a 10-game winning streak before the Coyotes earned a 3-0 victory between the teams Friday.

Despite their defeat Saturday, the Coyotes showed the necessary energy they needed. They were undone by an overtime penalty for too many men on the ice.

“It’s disappointing the way this game ended because we definitely could have used that second point,” said Coyotes forward Christian Fischer, who also scored in the third period Saturday. “We knew we had to win these six games, starting with last night. So this one definitely stings a little bit in the big picture. It’s over now. If we’re going to do anything, we can’t lose another game.

“I don’t think we’re mathematically out of it, but a lot of crazy things have happened. It starts with the next game, we’ve got to win the next two, and three, and four.”

The Kings also are mathematically alive, but their playoff chances are of the slim-and-none variety. Los Angeles (19-24-6, 44 points) is nine points behind the Blues, and even though there isn’t the same game-in-hand issue with seven games remaining, the Kings still would have to jump three teams in the division to become playoff eligible.

The Kings are a disappointing 2-4-0 over their past six games and will enter Monday’s game off a 6-2 thumping by host Anaheim on Saturday.

“We’re not going to make the playoffs. I just don’t see how that’s going to happen,” Kings coach Todd McLellan said. “I think it’s noble that we’re feeling sorry for ourselves a little bit, but we can’t keep playing the way we did (Saturday) and, in fact, we can’t play the way we did (Friday), when we won the game.”

–Field Level Media

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