The Phoenix Coyotes lost their second game in a row on Saturday night with a 4-2 loss to the Los Angeles Kings. The Coyotes record drops to 1-4 as they sandwiched their 5-1 victory against Columbus between a pair of two regulation losses.
The energy level at Jobing.com Arena was high as it was the first Western Conference Final rematch of the 2013 season. May 22 was the last time the Kings played in Glendale; a date that lives in infamy for Yotes fans. Kings captain Dustin Brown was showered with boos each time he touched the puck. Many Coyotes fans still believe the hit by Brown on former Coyote Michal Rozsival, that occurred seconds before the Coyotes were eliminated, was illegal. Fans chanted "beat LA" throughout the night and took much glee in doing so.
In a game that the Coyotes lost by two, the officials waived off two Coyotes goals in the game.
Period one went scoreless but was exciting nevertheless. The Coyotes were forced to kill off two minutes of a Kings 5-on-3 power play, mid-way through the period. Keith Yandle was sent off for roughing, which came about because he punched Kings forward Trevor Lewis after Lewis cross-checked him. Derek Morris was sent off with a two-minute unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for arguing the call on Yandle. With Yandle and Morris in the box, the other four defensemen, along with centers Boyd Gordon and Antoine Vermette, killed off the 5-on-3. Period one was also a strong period for recent call-up Nick Johnson. Johnson created several opportunities in the offensive zone and generally looked like he belonged on the roster.
The defensive style that dominated the first period would immediately give way to rush hockey. Three goals were scored in the first 5:08 of the second period. Anze Kopitar opened the scoring a little over a minute into the first period, snapping a Brown pass past Jason LaBarbera. The goal was Kopitar's first point of the season. But, the Coyotes would get momentum right back as the Kings took two penalties to give the Coyotes two minutes on the 5-on-3. Mikkel Boedker tied the game at one as he put home an Oliver Ekman-Larsson shot that hit the post. Kopitar scored his second of the period just over a minute later as he tipped in a rebound from a Justin Williams break away. Jeff Carter extended LA's lead to two after he tapped in a rebound past LaBarbera. Before the PA announcer could belt out the specifics of the Carter goal, "ref you suck" chants erupted from the Jobing.com Arena crowd after a Coyotes goal was disallowed for goaltender interference. Kyle Chipchura and Kyle Clifford dropped the mitts moments later.
The Coyotes wasted little time to score coming out of the second intermission as Shane Doan scored 22 seconds into the period. The comeback could not be completed as Jake Muzzin scored his first career goal on a point shot that bounced through LaBarbera's pads to once again give LA a two-goal lead. Captain Coyote dropped the gloves with Mike Richards late in the game as frustration boiled over for the Desert Dogs. A quick whistle called off a sure third goal for the Coyotes with 40 seconds left in the game.
Five For Winning
1. Kick 'em While Down - The LA Kings are at the lowest of the low. After Thursday's fiasco, the Kings are hurt now more than ever and will come out looking for a win to resuscitate the team. Don't allow them the chance to gain traction. Regardless of this season, they still are the team that steamrolled their way to the Stanley Cup. The Kings played a strong game and showed why they are defending Stanley Cup Champions. The LA win brought back a lot of bad memories for the Jobing.com Arena faithful who watched the Coyotes elimination by the hands of the Kings last May.
2. Discipline - We know the Kings' style from last season and should fully expect it cranked up to 11 when they hit the ice at Jobing.com Arena. Keep a level head and not fall for their games, let them sink themselves. The Coyotes took four penalties in the game but allowed no power play goals. The PK came up big for the Yotes but not taking so many penalties in the first place would be even better.
3. Defense - Undoubtedly the biggest problem thus far. Limit the turnovers in the defensive zone and get pucks out. We really don't need to assist in any Kopitar goals. While turnovers were still a problem, poor coverage on the back-side of plays doomed the Yotes once again. LA had numerous scoring chances on players sneaking in on the back-side of plays. Oh, and the Coyotes assisted on not one but two Kopitar goals.
4. Exposing the Flaws - The Kings are minus two important defensive pieces; Matt Greene and Willie Mitchell. Relying on younger guys to fill the holes, our top speed players should take full advantage of this and open up the D. Gaining access to the Kings' next flaw, Quick. Quick is still experiencing affects from his offseason back surgery. Make him work a bit, get pucks deep and challenge him. At times the Coyotes had golden scoring opportunities but for one reason or another, they could not finish.
5. Full 60 minutes - The Coyotes play a great 18 minutes per period. The problem: there's two minutes going unaccounted for. Play the full game without getting sloppy in the last few minutes of periods and good things will happen. Phoenix gave up goals and had sloppy plays at various points of the second and third periods. Finishing the game was not the major issue in this game.
Our Three Stars of the Game
1. Anze Kopitar: Kopitar scored his first two goals of the season to give LA 1-0 and 2-1 leads.
2. Mikkel Boedker: Scored a power play goal and created tons of offensive opportunities in the game.
3. Jonathan Quick: Played a solid game allowing only two goals (even if two more were disallowed).
The Coyotes get one day off before playing a home game against a team they faced in the Western Conference Semi-Finals; the Nashville Predators. Phoenix hopes to get that elusive second win on Monday night at 7 p.m.