When it rains in Phoenix it pours. Tonight in the Valley it may have been overcast, but the only water hitting the ground was the tears of Phoenix Suns, Coyotes and Arizona Diamondbacks fans alike, as their teams fell to California rivals. With the Suns and Coyotes in playoff pushes, it was even more important for them, but for the Coyotes, it wasn't just a tough loss like for the other two teams. The wheels didn't just fall off the bus. They reached escape velocity.
To start, the first period wasn't pretty. Less than two minutes into the game Los Angeles Kings forward Tanner Pearson put in a slapper from Jeff Carter to put the Kings up 1-0. The Coyotes had been in this position before and found ways to win. The key being -- finding ways.
The Yotes were given a golden opportunity a few minutes after Pearson's goal as the Coyote Killer (see Rostislav Klesla's career) Jordan Nolan went to the box for elbowing Martin Hanzal. This was the Coyotes' opportunity to shine. The Kings are in the middle of the pack in penalty killing, but the Coyotes are fifth on the power play and they had desperation on their side. Or at least should have.
They didn't manage a single shot. Not one. In fact they went a grand total of 9:33 without a shot from 4:13 to 13:56. I love the old Wayne Gretzky saying, "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take." Well 9:33 is a lot of time for good things to happen.
The second period didn't start much better as Antoine Vermette took a penalty for interference on Justin Williams. At first things looked great, Martin Erat even had an opportunity for a short-handed goal, but the wheels started shaking.
With 14 seconds remaining in the penalty kill, Drew Doughty sent the puck short side on Thomas Greiss and made the game 2-0.
Despite this and the two other goals, Greiss was not the ultimate problem in this game. In fact, he actually did quite well. The problem was the Coyotes' defense. By the end of the second the Kings had outshot the Coyotes 22-12 and had already given Carter two breakaway opportunities.
No goaltender is consistently that good. Not Patrick Roy, not Ken Dryden, not Mike Smith. If you keep peppering a goalie and allowing breakaways eventually something is going to find a way in. At 9:10 in the third it did, as Carter finally put one home and gave the Kings a sickening 3-0 lead.
But, not to be outdone, Anze Kopitar slid another one past Greiss on the power play just 40 seconds later after Lauri Korpikoski took a two minute break for hooking.
That is almost Game 6 in Boston levels of bad. All of the energy was gone from the Coyotes bench and it was obvious for the rest of the period.
The final tally was 4-0, a playoff berth for the Los Angeles Kings, a shutout for Jonathan Quick and another two points lost in a tight playoff race where every point matters isn't just a cute hashtag.
- LA's perspective - Jewels From The Crown
- The Yotes managed to only have 17 shots on goal. That is a season low. In fact they haven't even held an opponent to that few shots, the closest being the Calgary Flames on Dec. 4 when the Flames won 4-1 on 18 shots.
- The Coyotes are now 10.2 percent less likely to make playoffs than before this game. A win by the Carolina Hurricanes over the Dallas Stars tomorrow will boost their chances but as of right now they sit with a 23.1 percent chance of making it in.
- Last time the Coyotes were shutout was Jan. 2 against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
- The Yotes were only 41 percent in the circle with Mike Ribeiro and Hanzal winning less than 30 percent of their draws.
- Between the first and third periods shot droughts, the Coyotes went 23:40 without a shot.
- For further reference, is pronounced Mik-kel, not Michael.
- Jonathan Quick- He got the shutout and he looked great doing it. The Kings defense definitely helped him out, but a shutout is a shutout.
- Jeff Carter- He had breakaway after breakaway and lead the Kings into the Coyotes zone. With a goal, an assist and six shots on goal (almost double any other King), were it not for Quick's shutout he'd be first star.
- Anze Kopitar- Carter's goal sealed the deal but Kopitar's just drove the nail into the coffin. Kopitar had a goal and an assist and just looked amazing.
The Coyotes will be taking on the Edmonton Oilers back in Glendale on Friday at 7 p.m. It can be seen on Fox Sports Arizona and heard on 860 AM. After tonight's performance, this one is a must-win and hopefully the Desert Dogs will pull it off.