NHL All-Star goaltender Mike Smith returned to Arizona from the All-Star event in LA, bringing with him his new best friends, the LA Kings.
Despite making acquaintances with his new pals in LA, it was all back to business for Smith, the Coyotes and the Kings as the game got heated and chippy at times.
Arizona and LA went toe-to-toe for most of the game, but a late power play goal off a shady penalty paved the way for a 3-2 Kings Victory.
1-0 Arizona - After an excellent forecheck by the Yotes’ 4th line forced the Kings to turnover the puck in their own end, Connor Murphy took a quick shot which Peter Budaj saved. However, a big rebound spills out in front and Jordan Martinook is able to clean up the garbage, slipping the puck through Budaj’s five-hole. Assists to Murphy and Lawson Crouse at 8:48.
1-1 Tie - From the blue line, Drew Doughty winds up a big slap shot that rebounds off Luke Schenn’s butt before bouncing off Mike Smith and into the goaltender’s crease. Tobias Rieder gets tied up with some Kings trying to move the puck out of the danger zone but is out muscled as Anze Kopitar ties the game before Smith can dive across to make a follow-up save. Assists to Marian Gaborik and Doughty at 10:51.
2-1 Arizona - With the Coyotes surging at the end of the 2nd period, the 4th line once again executes a great forecheck and creates a scoring chance against the Kings. Budaj managed to make an initial save but swiped the puck down on to the end of Ryan White’s stick, where he promptly shot the puck into the back of the net past the out of position Budaj. Assist to Lawson Crouse at 18:30.
2-2 Tie - Not to be outdone by Ryan White, Jordan Nolan of the LA Kings found himself streaking in wide against Jakob Chychrun and heading toward Mike Smith. Chychrun couldn’t muscle Nolan off the puck, who then managed to get a weak backhanded shot to roll past Smith’s right leg pad and in. Assists to Anze Kopitar and Derek Forbort at 18:55.
3-2 LA - The Kings power play had the edge over an already tired Coyotes unit, forcing the play right up close to Smith with Arizona’s penalty kill collapsing. Some smooth passing by Jeff Carter and Anze Kopitar helped find Jake Muzzin right in front of Smith where he was able to shoot the puck home over Smith’s right shoulder. Assists to Carter and Kopitar at 18:11.
1. Will the pre-All Star momentum continue? Despite losing the match, the momentum the Coyotes had before the All-Star weekend remains. The Coyotes didn’t trail until the final minutes of the match and had all the energy early in the game to match their opponents. The real test will be against the Chicago Blackhawks.
2. Can the Coyotes beat Budaj? The Coyotes managed to score on Budaj twice but Kings goalie wasn’t tested often enough as he finished the night with a healthy save percentage of .935%.
3. How much offense will the Kings have? As predicted the Kings didn’t bring a lot of offense as most of the game was played with the score tied, however they took advantage of having 2 more power play opportunities than their Coyote counterparts.
Players of the Game
Los Angeles - Anze Kopitar - Opened the scoring for LA, assisted on their second and second goals and drew the penalty that gave the Kings a late game winning power play.
Arizona - The Fourth Line - Ryan White, Jordan Martinook and Lawson Crouse combined for a stellar night, producing both goals for the Coyotes.
- For more on the LA Kings, check out Jewels from the Crown.
- Peter Holland and Kevin Connauton were healthy scratches for the Coyotes. M
- Meanwhile Christian Fischer remained in the AHL after being reassigned to the Tucson Roadrunners for the AHL All-Star game. Laurent Dauphin also remained in Tucson after having another stint in the NHL prior to the All-Star break.
- Josh Jooris suited up for his first game since January 19th. He recorded one shot on goal in 11:54 ice time.
- Here’s a look at the controversial and game winning penalty for the LA Kings:
Tripping? pic.twitter.com/9Ro2YLqaNl— Arizona Coyotes (@ArizonaCoyotes) February 1, 2017
- The Coyotes generated 5 shots in the final 1:30 minutes of play with Mike Smith off the ice for the extra attacker.
- Attendance: 11,577.
Arizona will play the fifth and final game of their current home-stand on Thursday night, hosting the Chicago Blackhawks. Puckdrop is at 7:00pm Arizona time at Gila River Arena.