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Coyotes not throwing in the towel

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- For three years now, coach Dave Tippett has kept the Phoenix Coyotes together when they had every off-ice reason to fall apart. When they struggled to fill their rink, when the franchise seemed headed to Winnipeg, Tippett and his players kept improving and winning.

Now that they're stuck in a 0-3 hole in the Western Conference finals against an opponent seemingly touched by playoff destiny, Tippett and the Coyotes still aren't folding against maybe their longest odds yet.

In Game Four today (3 p.m., Ch. 2), the Los Angeles Kings will attempt to clinch just their second trip to the Stanley Cup final. The Coyotes still haven't given up hope of reaching their first.

"There's nothing to say now," Tippett said after the Coyotes' late-afternoon workout Saturday at the Kings' training complex. "We've got to win. Hopefully we can push it back to Phoenix."

Only three NHL teams have overcome this daunting deficit, but Phoenix is confident it has resources it hasn't tapped while getting outscored 10-3 so far by the eighth-seeded Kings, who have lost just once in 12 playoff games.

The Coyotes know Los Angeles better than most opponents after splitting the six-game season series and finishing two points ahead of the Kings for the Pacific Division title, so they know it's possible to beat L.A.

Doing it has been another matter entirely.

"Being down 3-0 is a big enough mountain, and then this team is rolling pretty good," the Coyotes' Ray Whitney said of the Kings. "We realize how difficult it's going to be, but we're not throwing everything in."

If the Coyotes were the quitting types, they all would have fled the desert a few years ago when the club went into bankruptcy and became ownerless.

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