That’s the good news. The bad: Nick Schmaltz missed the game after suffering an apparent upper-body injury during warmups.
Nick Schmaltz went down during warmups and will not play tonight. pic.twitter.com/LRdxPyXAzp— Bally Sports Arizona (@BallySportSAZ) May 4, 2021
Schmaltz has been an integral part of the Coyotes’ forward corps this season. The 25-year-old center has 10 goals and 32 points in 52 games and entered Monday’s contest with four points in his last four outings.
Without Schmaltz, the ‘Yotes were forced to go with 11 forwards and seven defensemen. If Tyler Pitlick remains on the sidelines, expect Arizona to get Lane Pederson back into the lineup.
The Kings considerably outplayed the Coyotes in the first period of Monday’s game, peppering Darcy Kuemper with 14 shots and amassing a whole expected goal’s worth of chances at even strength.
Conversely, Arizona managed just six shots against Kings starter Jonathan Quick in the first 20 minutes.
Late in the opening frame, with the Coyotes being outshot 11 to 2, Lawson Crouse sped into the Kings’ zone on the forecheck and won a race to the puck. He sent the puck towards the crease, where Christian Dvorak was able to get his stick on it and sweep it past Quick.
Christian Fischer also assisted on Dvorak’s 15th goal of the season. The big center capped it all off with a Bobby Orr-type celebration.
Dvo makes things happen in front of the net! pic.twitter.com/8qf9lg0Cem— Bally Sports Arizona (@BallySportSAZ) May 4, 2021
Los Angeles wasted no time in responding. Just 35 seconds after Dvorak’s ice-breaker, Trevor Moore beat Kuemper with a shot directly following an offensive zone face-off.
Who won that draw for the Kings? None other than Quinton Byfield, the second-overall pick from the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. Byfield received credit for the lone helper, giving him his first career NHL point in his fourth game.
The Coyotes played much better hockey in the second period, outshooting the Kings 13 to 7 and controlling the expected goals battle 0.58 to 0.16 at even strength.
Jakob Chyrchun gave the Coyotes a 2-1 lead early in the middle frame, converting on a cross-ice feed by Garland for his 17th goal of the season. No defenseman has scored more goals than Chychrun in the 2020–21 campaign.
Chychrun turned 23 on Mar. 31 and is already putting together one of the greatest seasons ever from a Coyotes rearguard. His 17 goals rank as the third-highest single-season mark by a Coyotes defenseman.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored 23 goals in the 2014–15 campaign and 21 in 2015–16. However, he played 82 games in 2014–15 and 75 the following year. Monday’s game was only Chychrun’s 53rd of the season.
The Coyotes allowed back-to-back goals in the middle of the second period to fall behind by a 3-2 score.
First, Anze Kopitar picked up his 998th point as a King with the game-tying goal. He broke in with Adrian Kempe on a two-on-one rush and fired a quick one-timer past Kuemper. Dustin Brown picked up the secondary helper on the tally, which came at the 7:40 mark.
Then, exactly six minutes later, Kopitar picked up point No. 999 with an assist on Alex Iafallo’s 12th goal of the season.
The Coyotes continued their strong play into the third period. Cal Petersen replaced Quick in the Kings’ net to begin the final 20, with Quick having suffered an upper-body injury during the second period.
Arizona outshot L.A. 15 to 5 in the third, although the Kings’ best chance failed to register as a shot on goal. With 5:04 to play, Kempe—the Kings' forward and brother of Mario, a former Coyote—streaked down the left side and fired the puck past Kuemper. It rang squarely off the right post.
As the clock ticked down in the final minutes, the Coyotes barely missed multiple excellent chances to score. Christian Dvorak had a centering pass go right between his skates in the slot; then, with Kuemper on the bench, Derick Brassard swung and missed on two wide-open looks within Petersen’s vicinity.
Ultimately, the Coyotes failed to tie the game and lost 3-2 in regulation. The setback put them five points back of the St. Louis Blues with three games remaining in their season.
- With his helper on the Chychrun goal, Garland improved to 33 points (10 goals, 23 assists) in 46 games this season. Despite ranking fourth on the team in scoring, Garland has the best points-per-game rate on the team (0.717).
- Might Barrett Hayton get another look—possibly in the top-six—with Schmaltz sidelined? The 2018 fifth-overall pick has just seven points (four goals, three assists) in 21 AHL games with Tucson this year. He’s still only 20 but he needs to take some steps—and fast.
- In his return to the lineup, Garland led all Coyotes forwards with a whopping 22:23 of ice time. When considering all skaters, only Chychrun and Ekman-Larsson saw heavier deployment.
- Jordan Oesterle slotted in as the seventh defenseman and played just 7:50. Most notably, he took a faceoff (!), the first of his career (!!), and won it (!!!).
- Anze Kopitar — two points (one goal, one assist)
- Jakob Chychrun — one goal, nine shots
- Alex Iafallo — GWG, four shots
The Coyotes and Kings will meet again for a rematch at the Gila River Arena on Wednesday at 7:00 pm.