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Coyotes trying for another big, late-season push

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 1, 2013 at 5:21 pm •  Published: April 1, 2013

Phoenix has lost eight of nine heading into the game against the defending Stanley Cup champion Kings.

"We've found ways to give points away that are big and put us in this position," Coyotes captain Shane Doan said. "Love to be four or five more points (ahead) and be little more comfortable, but we don't have that and have to find a way to get going."

The good news for the Coyotes is despite the number of teams in front of them in the West, they're not that far behind in points.

Entering Monday's games, Phoenix had 34 points, just three behind Columbus, the eighth-place team in the Western Conference. St. Louis is ninth with 36 points, while Dallas, Edmonton and Nashville are tied at 35. And since the lockout-shortened schedule includes only teams within the conference, the opportunity to make up ground is there.

"The good part is if you can beat those teams with two-point game, they're not getting anywhere," Coyotes forward Radim Vrbata said. "We need to just put some games together where we get two points."

The Coyotes have been in this position before — just last year.

Coming off a losing stretch that dropped them to the edge of the playoff picture, the Coyotes reeled off nine wins and earned a point in three others in their final 15 games to win the Pacific Division, their first NHL division title. Phoenix went on to win its first two playoff series — over Nashville and Chicago — to reach the Western Conference finals for the first time.

The Pacific Division is pretty much out of reach — Anaheim leads with 51 points — but a big run could get Phoenix into the playoffs for a fourth straight season while playing without an owner.

"We know that it's a battle right to the end and we've got to find ways to win games," Doan said. "We've done it in the past where we've gone on runs as a group and hopefully we can do it again. We have to — we've put ourselves in this position. When you look through the lineup, you know that guys can do it and there's more to give. You've got to find ways to generate more offense and go on a streak."

That streak needs to start now or it could be too late.