After a disappointing defensive effort against the Canucks on Sunday night, the Coyotes needed to start playing total team hockey. There were small lineup tweaks made, from Greiss getting the start over Smith to Doan being moved onto the wing for the Hanzal/Vrbata combo to Connor Murphy's recall into the lineup over Michael Stone, but the moment that may have turned everything around came on the ice from the least likely of sources. The Coyotes put a thorough pounding on a Kings team playing in the second game of a back-to-back and it started with a quality shift from the fourth line a little more than three minutes into the game.
Paul Bissonnette recovered a turnover in the Kings' zone and put a shot on net that was quickly followed by another shot from Halpern and then a rebound from Biz. Jonathan Quick made the save on all the shots, but the offensive pressure provided from an unlikely source looked to provide a tremendous boost for the Coyotes bench. The Coyotes would generate multiple quality chances in the opening minutes of the game that would be turned aside by Quick. None were more impressive than another opportunity provided by the fourth liners as Bissonnette made a nice move at center ice to enter the zone with speed. He made a simple pass to Kyle Chipchura who followed with a nifty dish to Jeff Halpern for a one timer that was hijacked by a sprawled Quick.
Eventually, the Coyotes pressure got to the Kings, and unsurprisingly, Antoine Vermette was involved. Offensive zone pressure from Mikkel Boedker created a turnover that Vermette pounced on and moved to the point. Oliver Ekman-Larsson walked the puck from the near boards and would release a nasty wrist shot that beat a screened Quick high to the blocker side for a 1-0 Coyote lead with 4:03 remaining in the period.
The Coyotes would lose a little of the pressure late in the first and early in the second period as the Kings started bringing the game to them, but again the fourth line would provide the defining momentum shift without scoring. Kyle Chipchura would be blasted high (and without the puck) by a charging Jordan Nolan and would hit the ice woozily. Bissonnette would instantly come over and bring classic hockey justice to Nolan along the boards. Nolan would receive four minutes for interference (laughable, should have been a major for a head hit) and roughing while Biz would get two for roughing and a 10-minute misconduct.
Nolan's dumb hit not only woke the Coyotes up in the period, but would sap the Kings' energy as they had to go short-handed for the first time on the night. Mercifully, the Coyotes wouldn't allow them to be shorthanded long, as OEL slapped a laser beam past Quick 12 seconds into the power play.
L.A. would continue to spend much of the second period taking penalties, and while the Coyotes didn't score on any more of the power plays, they did a good job of providing pressure and keeping the Kings hemmed in their end of the ice.
The third period saw the Coyotes play a simple, smart brand of hockey, pushing the puck into the Kings' zone and keeping the Kings wide in their own end. L.A. would get some chances here and there, but the Coyotes defensive play kept them from stringing chances together. Phoenix would put the nail in the Kings' coffin with speed from their wings.
Mikkel Boedker gained the blueline and made a nice pass to Lauri Korpikoski. The Korpedo would drive the net and center a pass back to Boeds who got the shot on Quick. Quick would be taken out by Matt Greene and Antoine Veremtte would bury the rebound home. After a review that was fairly unnecessary, the goal was confirmed and the Coyotes would take home a 3-0 victory.
- For the King's perspective, check out Jewels from the Crown.
- The Coyotes killed both King power plays they faced and finished the night one for three on the advantage themselves.
- Tomas Greiss faced 30 shots and stopped them all, but the Coyotes defense in front of him made the majority of those saves pretty easy for the German goalie.
- Antoine Vermette had a goal and an assist tonight to extend his points streak to five games. He did have a bad night in the circles, losing 12 of 19 face-offs for a winning percent of 37%.
- Shane Doan earned his 500th career assist on OEL's power play goal in the second period.
- The team that has scored the first goal has won the past eight games between these two opponents.
Our Three Stars of the Game
- Oliver Ekman-Larsson. After playing 8000 minutes against the Canucks, he only played 26:38 tonight which still led all skaters. Oh yeah, he also managed to score two pretty important goals.
- Paul Bissonnette. Biznasty played arguably his best game in a Coyote uniform tonight. He was all over the ice and provided quality scoring chances. He played 7:57 with two shots and four hits and would have played more but served 12 minutes for coming to his teammate's aid.
- Mikkel Boedker. Bods earned two assists and was great in all ends of the ice. His forecheck pressure led to the first goal and his speed directly setup the third.
Comment(s) of the Night
The review that followed the Antoine Vermette goal was somewhat ridiculous but it led to this discussion:
My favorite part of the review
Chipchura’s broken stick from the non-called slash being on top of the net. Double dose of referee ineptitude in one visual.
(Editor's note: I brought so much to that conversation!)
The Coyotes will stay home and prepare to welcome the NHL basement dwelling Buffalo Sabres at 7 p.m. Thursday night. Hopefully tonight's effort can be rolled over to that game and we can all put the memories of the goal that shall not be named solidly behind us.