After the Arizona Coyotes won the final game against the St. Louis Blues, it looked like it was the start of something great. It didn’t mean anything, but for a team that has lacked confidence this season, it should be enough to give them that boost.
Unfortunately, things haven’t worked out that way, with the Coyotes dropping both games to the Los Angeles Kings.
Arizona at least started better compared to Thursday. Los Angeles had an early push, but the Coyotes were able to respond and keep pace. There was a lot of fast, back-and-forth action, with neither team finding the back of the net and not a lot of whistles.
Things really started to come alive in the second period though.
Arizona took the first penalty of the game just under four minutes into the second when Oliver Ekman-Larsson was called for hooking Carl Grundstrom. The Kings were deep in the Coyotes’ zone, and it was one of those calls that you probably need to take.
The Kings’ power play is ranked eleventh in the league, and the Coyotes were able to keep them off the score sheet last game. But when you take penalties, you are playing with fire, and the Coyotes finally got burnt.
Adrian Kempe came into the Coyotes’ zone with speed bringing two Coyotes players down low. That left Alex Iaffalo alone to wrist the puck past Darcy Kuemper, giving the Kings the lead.
But the Coyotes would respond when they got the chance on the power play. Late in the power play, the Coyotes were finally set up with Oliver Ekman-Larsson quarterbacking. Kessel sent the puck back to OEL, who sent it over to Derick Brassard. Brassard was able to one-timer it past Calvin Petersen and tie the game.
His nickname is Brass, but this goal was golden. pic.twitter.com/Pd62JqIzrv— Arizona Coyotes (@ArizonaCoyotes) February 21, 2021
The "Short Leash" Line had been quiet this game. They had some good offensive looks, but they weren't as dominant as they were against the Blues. But late in the second, Conor Garland drew a cross-checking call from Drew Doughty.
The resulting power play wasn’t all that special, and it looked like the period would end without incident. But with less than a second left, Conor Garland took another cross-check, this time to the face, from Austin Strand.
Garland took a heavy cross-check to the face from Austin Strand. pic.twitter.com/jVPB7Z3bjM— FOX Sports Arizona (@FOXSPORTSAZ) February 21, 2021
Luckily, Garland was okay and was back on the bench to start the period. Unluckily, the Kings retook the lead. The Kings recovered the puck in their own zone and came back on a 3-on-2. Garland and Chychrun attempted to defend but ended up on the ice with Kings alone. Blake Lizotte was right in front of the net, but Trevor Moore hit the puck in to give the Kings the lead.
The Coyotes challenged the goal with the possibility that Kuemper was interfered with. The goal stood, wiping out the rest of the Coyotes’ power play. Neither team scored on the 4-on-4 nor the Kings’ limited power play.
Almost immediately after the Coyotes killed that penalty, they took another one when a bad change resulted in too many men on the ice. It was just a brutal start to the third period all around.
Arizona did get their chance after killing the second penalty. Trevor Moore was in the box for holding Clayton Keller and the Coyotes were back on the power play.
Again it was a rough start to the power play. But with just under 30 seconds left, the Coyotes were the Kings’ zone. Oliver Ekman-Larsson kept the zone and passed it to Jordan Oesterle who immediately found an open Phil Kessel. Kessel did what he does best and shot the puck past Calvin Petersen, giving him goals in back-to-back games.
Phil Kessel ripper. Tie game. #Yotes pic.twitter.com/G88upEHGn5— Michael Gutnick (@michaelgutnick) February 21, 2021
But the Kings were not done fighting yet. They entered the zone with numbers and speed and were able to spread out the Coyotes’ defensemen. That allowed Gabriel Vilardi a clear path, and he was able to wrist it past Kuemper and score the lone 5-on-5 goal of the game.
The Coyotes tried to come back, but there wasn’t enough time. Arizona eventually pulled Kuemper and Iafallo was able to get his second of the game on an empty netter.
Arizona needed to start the game with more energy, and they did. But the Kings were great 5-on-5, and the Coyotes were unable to get that much-needed third goal. It was a rough end and one the team can’t dwell on.
Short leash line for life. pic.twitter.com/7SRSwFNela— Arizona Coyotes (@ArizonaCoyotes) February 20, 2021
- Barrett Hayton was a healthy scratch again, his second straight game in the power play.
- It is not an excuse for losing, but the refereeing was pretty suspect this game. Conor Garland getting cross-checked to the face could have earned a five-minute major and he took a lot of abuse this game.
- Tyler Pitlick had a good game, briefly appearing with Nick Schmaltz and Clayton Keller. He was also the screen on the Kessel power play goal.
- The "Short Leash" Line didn't show up on the scoresheet but looked much better against the Kings. They were able to find space in the King's offensive zone, but not a lot of Grade A chances.
- Despite being the best jerseys in the league, the Coyotes have yet to win in the Reverse Retro jerseys.
- This was Drake Caggiula's first game since he was injured playing in the third game against the Blues. He played 10:34.
- Both Christian Fischer (9:25) and John Hayden (8:41) played less than 10 minutes.
- Before the game, the Coyotes made a number of moves related to the taxi squad and the AHL.
ROSTER MOVES: The #Yotes announced the following transactions today— Arizona Coyotes PR (@AZCoyotesPR) February 20, 2021
Assigned Frederik Gauthier to Tucson (AHL)
Assigned Kyle Capobianco to Tucson (AHL)
Assigned Dryden Hunt to the taxi squad
Recalled Aaron Ness to the taxi squad
Moved Drake Caggiula to the active roster
- Alex Iafallo - Two goals
- Phil Kessel - PPG and an assist
- Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Two assists
The Coyotes get a break from the Kings and will play the Anaheim Ducks at 7 pm.