In a wild game in which both the Los Angeles Kings (38-25-6, 82pts) and the Phoenix Coyotes (33-25-11, 77pts) took control of the game at different times, the soon-to-be Arizona team capitalized on a late surge to win 4-3. This win gains some ground for Phoenix in the Pacific Division as they are only five points behind the Kings for that top-three spot for the playoffs.
The Coyotes got things going in the first period with two quick goals that let the air out of Staples Center early. Rob Klinkhammer got things going early when he finished on a puck in the middle of traffic. He swatted it in on LA goalie Jonathan Quick who was moving counter to the Phoenix left winger. Open net, Coyotes up 1-0.
A few seconds later, Drew Doughty was called for cross-checking. The resulting Phoenix power play saw Mikkel Boedker get a shot from right in front of the net and forced in a wicked back hand that Quick could not react to. 2-0 Coyotes.
Phoenix knew what to do at that point… go for the body. They tried to keep up their offensive pace and attacked every chance they could, mustering up 10 shots on goal in the first.
Tanner Pearson came up big for the Kings with just about three minutes remaining, countering the Coyote push. The newest LA young gun had skated down on a break heading to the left side of the goal and shot the puck past Coyote goalie Mike Smith for his second of the year. The Kings finally got on the board, 2-1. Pearson’s last goal was November 14 versus the Islanders.
Both teams went at each other to start the 2nd period, fortunately, Los Angeles had more of an edge to capitalize on some much needed momentum.
At the 13:00 mark in the second, with the Kings on an aggressive attack, Alec Martinez netted the tying goal and his 8th of the year with a laser that went over the left shoulder of Smith, who was deep in his net. That was also the 10th point in last 12 games for Martinez.
The Coyotes only had three shots since Pearson’s goal late in the first to the end of the second. The Kings stepped up their defense and eventually did the same for their offense.
With just over three minutes left in the second, Coyote’s Michael Stone had pulled down King’s Anze Kopitar. On the ensuing power play, Kopitar put a perfectly placed pass right into Marian Gaborik who was charging in front and scored the go-ahead goal. Kings ahead, 3-2.
It was hard to get any momentum as penalties were plaguing both teams. One of those benefitted Phoenix on a surprising play. Keith Yandle intercepted a bad pass from Kopitar, who was trying to get it out to clear it. Yandle then ripped a shot from near the blue line. Quick was able to put a glove on it, but the puck was to strong for the Kings’ netminder to handle. Coyotes and Kings were tied at three a piece.
Unfortunately, the nail was driven into the coffin when Phoenix scored the game winner.
Things were looking promising for LA as what seemed like two ninja-style Quick saves on consecutive Phoenix shots, turned out be a goal for the Coyotes. The first shot by Jeff Halpern, which was thought to be blocked, had completely crossed the line and bounced out on Quick’s stick, giving the Coyotes a 4-3 lead. Fans at Staples Center did not like that at all. Especially when video replay was used to confirm the goal.
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) March 18, 2014
So video replay can be useful, unlike when it did this past Saturday against Anaheim, but that is the past. The Kings now have to figure out how to get back on track and snap this three-game home losing streak, which came off of an eight-game win streak.
The Kings have a chance to do that Thursday when NHL leading goal-scorer, Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals, come to Staples Center.