The Coyotes had one final chance to prove they are a playoff contender instead of a pretender.

A loss Tuesday to the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings wouldn’t have mathematically spoiled their chances for a fourth straight playoff berth, but it would seem to push the Coyotes into the seller category for today’s NHL trade deadline, which expires at noon.

The odds for a spot in the postseason has never looked this bleak this late into a season with coach Dave Tippett at the helm, but the players don’t seem to want to start rebuilding for next season – as evidenced by the Coyotes’ 3-1 win over the Kings in front of 12,934 at Jobing.com Arena.

“Whatever management does is what they think will make this organization and this team better but that being said, we don’t want to see anybody in this locker room move,” defenseman Derek Morris said.

Even with the two-point boost, which moves the Coyotes into 12th and two back from the eight spot, it’s still possible General Manager Don Maloney subtracts from this team rather than adding to it.

The Coyotes have to leapfrog the five other teams in contention for the final seed in the Western Conference with 12 games remaining, and most of those teams have games at-hand and own the final tiebreaker (regulation and overtime wins).

With a lengthy list of players set to become unrestricted free agents at season’s end, including forwards Boyd Gordon and Raffi Torres along with injured goalie Mike Smith, Maloney could deal to recoup some assets rather than running the risk of having them walk for nothing this summer.

He could add some scoring punch, which seems unlikely with a tight league-mandated budget.

Or he could do nothing – which would be a clear indication he’s all-in with this group, letting it decide whether or not it’s playoff-bound.

“Who knows what will happen,” said Tippett, who recorded his 150th win with the Coyotes – only the second to do so behind Bobby Francis (165). “That’s not my department, but they’re a good group. They want to do well.”