LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 05: Mike Smith #41 of the Phoenix Coyotes in goal against the Los Angeles Kings during the second period at Staples Center on January 5, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
In what may have been their hardest played game since they played the Boston Bruins the Phoenix Coyotes again came up short, losing in the first minute of overtime against the Los Angeles Kings with the final score 0 - 1. The entire game was a showcase of great goaltending by Mike Smith and Jonathon Quick, both not allowing a single goal in regulation. The Coyotes really needed to get points in this game in order to get back into the running for the playoffs, and even though they walked away with one point, they still fell short of the two points they were hoping for.
This was Smith's second game back from his groin injury, and his play has been stellar since he has come back, even though his record of 0-1-1 does not reflect that. He did not allow a single goal during regulation and made some amazing saves preventing the Kings from getting any points. In addition to making some great saves he prevented any rebound chances, including one moment where he dove to knock the puck away to safety. Sooner or later if he keeps up this play he start stacking up the wins, and even a couple more shut outs.
Two of players that were the most impressive during this game were Marc-Antoine Pouliot and of course Shane Doan. Pouliot had recently been called up from the Portland Pirates and was incredibly impressive during this game. He had great puck control and speed, and spent a lot of time going to the net with Lauri Korpikoski. From the start he was playing like he had been with the Yotes for the beginning of the season, and I look forward to seeing him play in future games. Doaner was playing hungry for the entire game, he was looking for a goal this game and he went to the net every chance he got, getting a couple of good chances against Quick, who was unfortunately a wall this game.
Perhaps the biggest set back of the game was the loss of Adrian Aucoin late in the first period, who took a puck that bounced off his stick, and was out for the entire game. Without Aucoin the Coyotes definitely seemed to change their play for the second and third. There were a few minor scuffles in the first and it definitely seemed like Paul Bissonnette was going to end up fighting with someone by the end of the game, but after Aucoin left the energy seemed to change, to fit the new circumstances. Hopefully Aucoin is okay, his presence on the ice was missed, and the Yotes don't need any more injuries.
Bullet Point Notes From the Game:
- Always makes me feel good when I see Ray Whitney creep someone in the pregame interview, especially if it’s the assistant coach. It shows confidence
- Daymond Langkow wins the first faceoff and Mikkel Boedker gets a shot shortly after.
- Rostislave Klesla was almost checked into the Coyote's bench, luckily he was uninjured.
- Anze Kopitar's scoring opportunity is broken up in front of the Coyote's net, defense is good early on.
- Pouliot has a great scoring opportunity, David Schlemko was in front of the net and iced Quick. This lead to some pushing in front of the net.
- The Kings were deep in the Coyote's zone when Jarret Stoll was called for interference. First and only appearance of the Coyote's power play.
- Coyotes win the power play face-off but they are unable to do anything with it, at one point a dump in leads to the Kings getting a couple of short-handed goal opportunities in the unsuccessful power play.
- Smith continues to make great saves, throughout and prevents rebounds. One rebound luckily bounced over a King's player who was right in front of the net.
- Doan makes his first goal attempt with a wrap around, he came very close but was unable to capitalize.
- Paul Bissonnette and Drew Doughty "exchange words" at this point it looks like these two are going to drop gloves by the end of the night. This did not happen though.
- With a couple seconds left in the first, Aucoin takes a puck to the face which bounced off his stick. He goes straight to the locker room and does not return for the game.
- Boedker and Doan again come close with the puck going right through the crease. They come close but they can't capitalize.
- LA has one of their flurries, which is finally broken up by Korpedo, the Yotes are called offsides before they are able to mount an offense from this turnover.
- Smith, in a recurring theme of the game, continues to make the much needed saves to keep the game 0 - 0.
- Radim Vrbata is called for tripping halfway through the second period. The penalty kill is playing without Aucoin but they perform great only allowing one shot.
- Kings have another flurry, which the Coyotes and Smith are able to weather. Even during these flurries the Coyotes defense continues to be strong with Smith preventing the rebounds.
- Smith makes 2 more great saves, one after Pouliot has been checked into turning over the puck and one where Michal Rozsival was fooled by Dustin Penner giving him an almost free shot at the goal.
- Doan continues to go for the net looking for his goal. Korpedo, Pouliot, Whitney and Chipchura also are involved in with chances, which Quick impressively blocks.
- In one of the best saves of the night Smith blocks a shot from Willie Mitchell, and then leans forward to push the puck away to safety, preventing any rebounds.
- In what may have been the Kings' best opportunity to score, Smith was caught outside the net. Luckily the puck flew past Kings players keeping the score 0 - 0 to finish off the third period.
- With overtime less than a minute through a goal manages to slip in past Smith it. It was reviewed to make sure it went through as the net was lifted up some time during the play allowing the goal to slide all the way through. It is announced it is a good goal, ending the game Coyotes 0, Kings 1.
Our Three Stars
1) Mike Smith: No goals allowed during regulation. Great saves made throughout the game. What more do you want?
2) Shane Doan: In the second half of the game Doan always seemed to be leading the Yotes to the net. With 2 shots on goal in 20 minutes on ice, he was definitely leading the team, but he needs to get a goal soon.
3) Marc-Antoine Pouliot: 2 shots, 14 minutes on the ice, and great control over the game. If he keeps playing like this I can definitely see him being a vital part of the team.
Five For Winning
1. Score early, score first; like it or not the Coyotes have not been a good at coming back when the other team scores first this season. They need to strike early and maintain the lead. Unfortunately they didn't score at all this game, but not for lack of trying.
2. Strong defense in front of the net. The Coyotes have been letting to many people just hang out in front of the net waiting for rebounds. This needs to stop and they need to eliminate the LA's second chances. This didn't seem to be much of an issue this game, Smith was a vacuum preventing any rebounds.
3. Power play goals. The Yotes have not been great on the power play this year. In fact they have been fairly bad on the power play, but in they have managed to get power play goals in the last two games. Hopefully they can make this the third game in a row that they get power play goals. With only one shot at a power play, they were unable to capitalize with what would have been a game winning goal. The team needs to find a way to consistently score power play goals.
4. Win face-offs. It seems to be a major problem as of late especially with the injuries the Yotes have been having this season, but they need to find a way to win more face-offs, especially in power plays and penalty kills. Winning face-offs helps to control the game, and they need to maintain control of the game. This was absolutely done in this game. The Coyotes won 32 of 50 face-offs, and it definitely helped them maintain control of the game.
5. Shoot the puck! I can't tell you how many times during a game where I want to scream at the screen "shoot the puck," especially during power plays but really during most of the game. Its amazing what happens when they shoot the puck, they either get points or they get close. I know they are looking for the perfect shot to go in but sometimes you just want them to take any shot. The Coyotes had 22 shots on goal which is lower than their past couple games, but that number doesn't tell the full story. This was definitely a defense heavy game, and there weren't many moments during the game where I felt they should have tried to shoot.
Comment of the Night
This seems to be the theme of the past couple games the Coyotes are going to have to start winning in regulation. The next game is against the New York Islanders on Saturday at home, and even though the Yotes' home record has 7-8-3, the Islanders away record is 6-8-3, so hopefully this is the home win they are looking for.