GLENDALE AZ - OCTOBER 21: Lee Stempniak #22 of the Phoenix Coyotes scores a first period goal past goaltender Jonathan Quick #32 of the Los Angeles Kings during the NHL game at Jobing.com Arena on October 21 2010 in Glendale Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
[Apologies on the delayed recap...the editorial staff at FFH begs your forgiveness and will strive to be better in the future.]
It felt as if the Coyotes had gone forever without a win. In reality, it was just 3 games, but the calendar marked it as almost 2 weeks since the Coyotes notched a win in their opener in Prague against the Bruins. Playing in their first game in 4 nights, the Coyotes took advantage of a tired Kings club and jumped to an early lead that they held on from a late Kings rush to win 4-2.
Lee Stempniak, who scored 14 goals in 18 games after being acquired at the trade deadline last year, found his scoring touch by lighting the lamp 3 times en route to his first career NHL hat trick. Also, Andrew Ebbett, making his Coyotes debut notched a pretty shorthanded tally to round out the 'Yotes scoring. The offense was needed in a big way as the Coyotes were without key cogs Shane Doan (serving the first game of his 3 game suspension for tapping Dan Sexton) and Martin Hanzal (out 1-2 weeks with the ever mysterious lower body injury).
We interrupt this regularly scheduled recap (albeit slightly delayed) for a word about the attendance. As some have already read/seen/heard, it wasn't terribly good (announced at 6,706, actual attendance probably closer to 5,500). That being said, it was a Thursday night game, against the Kings which aren't a terribly strong draw despite being a division opponent that is fairly local for an out-of-town road trip. There are plenty of very good reasons for the attendance issues and we have previously discussed them a bit, and we are planning another series of articles that will discuss why we at FFH believe that there is light at the end of the tunnel. However, I don't want to be accused of not acknowledging that the attendance was not good...and I implore everyone to get off their butts and make their way out to a game if you have the time and money. I know that it's hard, especially on a weeknight, but it's discouraging to be in such a gorgeous arena that is only 1/3 full. [End attendance sidebar]
The Coyotes played an especially strong first period, opening a 2-0 lead in the first 10 minutes. The Coyotes would out-shoot LA in the first period 16-7. The Kings gained momentum throughout the game and were bolstered by two goals from Wayne Simmonds.
Ed Jovanovski had a strong game wearing the 'C' in place of Doan and recording 3 assists. The entire line of Vernon Fiddler - Taylor Pyatt - Desert Ninja was the best unit on the ice for either squad.
The Kings had top games from noted Coyotes-killers Anze Kopitar and the aforementioned Simmonds. No doubt that the lack of Drew Doughty on the blue line didn't help. Congratulations to Brayden Schenn on recording his first career NHL point.
After the jump, official game highlights, our three star selections and comment of the night...
Our Three Stars:
1 - Desert Ninja - as if it could be someone else...great all around game and the hat trick to boot.
2 - Ed Jovanovski - played physical, avoided penalties, three assists
3 - Andrew Ebbet - a solid game and shorty, making the case to possibly stick around or be the first call up in case of future injuries.
Comment of the Night:
So I benched Jovo and Ninja on my fantasy team today…hahah
Official game highlights courtesy of the NHL:
Next game is Saturday night vs. the Hurricanes - Travis or someone will have the preview up. There might be a bit of tailgating to get this thing started in Lot J, so hope to see a lot of folks there. Go 'Yotes!