Posted October 28, 2011 on AP on Fox
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The Los Angeles Kings have been stingy in their own end thanks to Jonathan Quick. The return of their best defenseman should help them continue that prowess. All-Star Drew Doughty is expected to be back in action Saturday night for the Kings when they visit the Phoenix Coyotes. Doughty, who signed an eight-year, $56 million contract last month, was placed on injured reserve Oct. 16 with a right shoulder problem sustained in a 3-2 overtime win at Philadelphia the day before. Flyers forward Zac Rinaldo leveled Doughty with a hit 24 seconds into the contest. The former Norris Trophy finalist missed almost all of training camp while negotiating the deal that put him among the NHL's highest-paid defensemen. Doughty has returned to practice this week. Los Angeles (6-2-1) went 4-1-0 in his absence, and rookie defenseman Slava Voynov - called up from Manchester of the AHL when Doughty hit IR - had two goals and an assist in Thursday's 5-3 victory at Dallas. Voynov recorded his first NHL points, although he may be the odd man out with Doughty returning. "Well, yeah, it looks like Doughty is going to be ready to go here, probably on the weekend, the next game," coach Terry Murray said. "So yeah, there's some decisions to be made, maybe more so by management than the coaching staff. We'll see how that goes." Quick made 30 saves to improve to 6-0-1 with a 1.12 goals-against average, although he failed to become the first goaltender to record four straight shutouts since Phoenix's Brian Boucher in 2003-04. Quick didn't allow a goal in the Kings' first three games without Doughty. The goalie made 28 saves in a 2-0 victory at Phoenix (4-3-2) on Oct. 20 to record his 100th NHL win. Dustin Brown and Kyle Clifford scored as the Kings won their fourth straight over the Coyotes. Brown and Mike Richards joined Voynov with three points apiece Thursday for the Kings, who broke out after totaling three goals over their previous three games. "We knew if we kept generating chances, the floodgates would eventually open," center Anze Kopitar said. "We came through at the right time and needed it. That's a step in the right direction." Phoenix has totaled 12 goals in going 2-0-1 since losing to Los Angeles. Veteran winger Ray Whitney had two goals and an assist in Thursday's 5-3 home win over New Jersey. "Wins are huge early in the year," winger Raffi Torres said. "This is when you need to get them because they only get harder down the stretch." Coach Dave Tippett created a new line that teamed Whitney with Radim Vrbata and Martin Hanzal in a combination that worked well at times last season. Vrbata and Hanzal each had two points. "I was just kind of trying to tweak things, seeing if we can get some sparks here," Tippett said. This contest features four players among the Western Conference's points leaders. Kopitar has 12 and Richards nine while Whitney and captain Shane Doan share Phoenix's team lead with 10 apiece. Kopitar has gone nine straight games without a goal against the Coyotes.
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