Well, as we were reminded about 1,000 times during last night's Phoenix Coyotes game with the Los Angeles Kings, the winner would clinch a spot in the postseason. Unfortunately, the Coyotes could not recapture last season's shootout magic, and when the game went through regulation and overtime, it was the Kings that scored twice past Ilya Bryzgalov while only Radim Vrbata could tally for the Desert Dogs.
The full highlights with goal scorers are walked through after the jump, so let's focus here on the rest of the season for the Coyotes and their playoff chances. The Coyotes are currently sitting in 6th position in the Western Conference, tied in points, regulation and OT wins, and the season series with the Nashville Predators (the Predators get the 5th slot for their better goal differential).
The Coyotes could not clinch tonight, but they will clinch when one of the following occurs: (1) They gain a point in either game against San Jose; or (2) Dallas fails to win a game in regulation or overtime. Should Dallas win a game in a shootout, the Coyotes clinch because they will win the head-to-head tie breaker with Dallas.
That being said, the Coyotes don't really want to finish in 8th position and get a first round match-up with Vancouver. So here's what everyone has left:
4. Los Angeles - 1 point ahead of the Coyotes; Coyotes have one more regulation and OT win for the first tie breaker; Los Angeles has a back-to-back with Anaheim remaining.
5. Nashville - as mentioned, they are tied with the Coyotes in the first three tie breakers; the Preds will play against Columbus and at St. Louis for their final two games.
6. Phoenix - Back-to-back games with the Sharks remain.
7. Anaheim - 2 points behind the Coyotes; will win first tie breaker with 4 more regulation/OT wins; home and home with Los Angeles remaining.
8. Chicago - 2 points behind the Coyotes; same number of regulation/overtime wins split the division series; home and home with Detroit remaining.
10. Dallas - 6 points behind the Coyotes; will play a home and home with Colorado and then finish the season at Minnesota.
Another night of waiting for the Coyotes, but they do gain a point and stay in the race to get the 4th seed in the Western Conference which is a victory in itself.BULLET POINT NOTES FROM THE GAME:
- Returning to the Coyotes lineup - Ed Jovanovski (with full face shield), Lauri Korpikoski, Taylor Pyatt...that's a nice boost.
- Coyotes had good early pressure with a few nice rushes from the fourth line (Kyle Turris and Andrew Ebbett taking shots while Paul Bissonnette created havoc).
- Coyotes draw a penalty (first PK for Kings in 2 games!) and have some good opportunities but Jonathan Quick is up to the challenge. It is clear that the Coyotes did some solid power play work during their time off.
- Kings strike first after a brilliant toe drag by Dustin Brown allowed him to feed Jarret Stoll at the back door (where is the back door D?!?!?!), 1-0 Kings.
- And the Coyotes answer right back as Lee Stempniak buries a shot past Quick. That's the type of response you need.
- That line isn't done as the Coyotes make a nice stretch pass from Keith Yandle to Vernon Fiddler into the zone, Stempniak blasts one off of Quick's helmet from the sharp angle and Taylor Pyatt puts the rebound into the gaping net to give the Coyotes a 2-1 lead.
- With Matt Greene in the penalty box, the Coyotes almost extend the lead as Shane Doan attempts to put back a rebound behind Quick, but Drew Doughty goes to a knee and robs Doan of his 20th of the season.
- With Adrian Aucoin in the box, the Coyotes try to jump a shorthanded rush but Doughty keeps the puck in and it creates a scoring opportunity for Oscar Moller, but Ilya Bryzgalov makes an unbelievable stop.
- After a Coyotes turnover, the Kings rush up and a feed to Kyle Clifford driving to the net (and through Bryz) gets deflected into the net. It looked like Bryz had no opportunity to make a play and it should've been goaltender interference from the initial look, but as it stands, we're tied at 2 heading into the third.
- Kings have the jump early in the third period and the refs are helping by calling penalties on the Coyotes while missing Jovo take a stick to the net on the ensuing penalty kill.
- Taylor Pyatt had a brilliant opportunity that went past Quick, through the crease, off of Quick's pad, back through the crease and away.
- Lots of third period action going both ways, no really great scoring opportunities though.
- Game stays tied at 2 through regulation. In the overtime, it's all Coyotes as Doan and Stempniak and Korpikoski all create good scoring chances, but Quick is standing on his head...heading to the shootout.
- In the shootout, Michal Handzus and Stoll beat Bryz high glove and only Vrbata was able to score for the Coyotes - Kings clinch, Coyotes still fighting.
FIVE FOR WINNING:
- Win and they're in. Crap
- Win and they're in. Shoot
- Win and they're in. D'oh
- Win and they're in. Gosh darnit
- Win and they're in. Beat the Sharks!!!
COMMENT OF THE NIGHT
Not shabby as we get into postseason form with 399 comments and some good conversation...