Tonight was a big game for the Arizona Coyotes. The Coyotes desperately needed to bounce back after dropping their last two games against the Colorado Avalanche and were facing off against long-time rivals the Los Angeles Kings.
The Coyotes did not disappoint, beating the Kings 3-2 in regulation.
Los Angeles came out swinging, and they controlled a lot of the first period. Early on, they were outshooting the Yotes 6-1, but neither team established pressure.
Arizona took the first penalty when Ilya Lyubushkin was sent to the box for interference. Antti Raanta had to come up big, but the Coyotes killed the penalty and kept the game tied at zero.
Arizona did a great job at keeping the Kings to the outside and preventing them from getting set up or establishing a lot of pressure. They would get some offensive zone time of their own, and the period ended with the Kings outshooting the Coyotes 11-7. It was a solid road period and just the start of things to come.
The second period would prove to be a gamechanger for the Desert Dogs. They had been getting some good offensive zone pressure, and nine minutes into the period, the Kings were forced to take their first penalty of the game.
With Michael Amadio in the box for tripping, the Coyotes won the faceoff and kept the zone. Oliver Ekman-Larsson sent the puck to Jordan Oesterle, who was down by the faceoff circles. Oesterle drew most of the Kings away, leaving a wide-open Clayton Keller on the other side. Keller wristed the puck past Jonathon Quick, giving the Coyotes the lead.
Los Angeles Kings had a great response to being down 1-0, showing they still had some fight left in them. They kept up the pressure and eventually got their shot on the power play when Michael Chaput went to the box for hooking.
Los Angeles was able to tie things up on the power play with a goal from Drew Doughty. Doughty found himself all alone at the top of the circle, and one heavy slap shot later, and it was a tie game.
But the teams weren’t finished taking penalties yet. Less than a minute after the Chaput call, the Coyotes were back on the power play after Christian Dvorak took a stick up high.
This time it was Nick Schmaltz’s turn to play power play hero. He was in a similar position as Oesterle on the previous power play, towards the top of the faceoff circle. But rather than go for the cross-ice pass, he fired it on net and past Quick. And with that, the Coyotes had regained the lead.
Post and in, goal delivered. ✉️ pic.twitter.com/L6rjz2vHDq— Arizona Coyotes (@ArizonaCoyotes) March 4, 2021
That first shift after a goal is so important, and the Coyotes had a great one. The Coyotes forced a turnover in the Kings zone, and Johan Larsson was in the perfect spot to give the Desert Dogs their third goal of the night.
It wasn’t the most complicated play and required a bit of luck, but the Coyotes had scored the ever-elusive third goal. It came 13 seconds after the Coyotes’ last goal and seemed to shake the Kings and Quick.
Arizona killed their next penalty, and the second period ended with them up 3-1. But as hard as gaining the lead was, it would be harder to keep it.
Two goals is a big deficit, but the Kings weren’t going to go down without a fight. They came out with speed to start the third period, prepared to make a run at tying things up.
Arizona played defensively in the third, doing their best to keep the Kings off the scoresheet. Los Angeles cut the Coyotes’ lead in half with just over six and a half minutes left with a high deflection and goal from Gabriel Vilardi.
That seemed to provide enough of a wake-up call for the Coyotes. And things were looking up when Drake Caggiula came into the Kings’ zone with speed forcing them to take a penalty with just 3:08 left in regulation.
Los Angeles kept the Coyotes from scoring, but most of the resulting power play was spent in the Kings’ zone. After the Kings killed the penalty, the Coyotes weathered the final Kings storm, and the game ended in regulation with a 3-2 Arizona win.
This evening's cast and crew. ️ pic.twitter.com/uHM1jlwJWx— Arizona Coyotes (@ArizonaCoyotes) March 4, 2021
- Conor Garland returned from injury, playing 17 minutes and 17 seconds and recording an assist on Schmaltz's power play goal. He now leads the team with 20 points and 13 assists.
- Niklas Hjalmarsson played in his 800th NHL regular-season game. He played 19 minutes and 50 seconds and had two blocked shots.
- Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Jakob Chychrun, and Jordan Oesterle all had assists.
- Antti Raanta was a massive part of the Coyotes' win, stopping 40 of 42 shots. He was especially busy in the third period when the Kings outshot the Coyotes 18-4.
- Tyler Pitlick may have had his best game as a Coyote, coming very close to scoring a few times. Along with Johan Larsson getting a goal, it was a good game for new additions.
- Keller has goals in back-to-back games for the third time this season. He needs to be more consistent, but he had a good game.
- Nobody on either team had multiple points.
- Ilya Lyubushkin started things off with a big hit in the first period. The Coyotes had 25 hits compared to the Kings 10.
- Antti Raanta - 40 saves on 42 shots
- Drew Doughty - Power play goal
- Nick Schmaltz - Power play goal
The Coyotes are back in Glendale on Friday as they play the Minnesota Wild for the first time this season.