LA Kings vs. Coyotes: Poor penalty kill looms large in 3-2 loss

LA Kings (Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)
LA Kings (Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports) /

A poor penalty kill doomed the LA Kings, allowing two second-period power play goals and ultimately falling 3-2 to the Arizona Coyotes on Wednesday.

Despite outshooting the Coyotes 42-23, more of the same problems plagued the LA Kings, falling 3-2 in regulation on Wednesday night.

“This one kinda sucks, honestly,” a visibly frustrated Gabe Vilardi said after the game.

A perfect response to a disappointing night.

Arizona used a big second period, highlighted by three goals, including two separated 13 seconds apart. The middle frame, in general, was littered with penalties on both sides, with Clayton Keller tallying the game’s first goal from the left dot off a nifty pass through the slot.

Approximately a minute and a half later, the LA Kings capitalized on the power play. Drew Doughty walked the blue line, feeding Adrian Kempe at the right dot, who immediately passed it back to Doughty, firing a one-timer from the high slot into the back of the net. The goal made it an even one-goal game and gave Doughty his fourth power play goal and sixth goal of the year.

At this rate, Doughty is on pace to score 11 power play goals, which would be a career-best for him.

“I’ve been playing the middle of the powerplay for a long time my entire career,” the 31-year-old said. “And I finally got to go on the left hash mark opposite Kopi. The guys are just making good passes to me. I’m just shooting it, and things are going in.”

The story from there was sloppy, careless play, as Nick Schmaltz gave the Coyotes the lead right back just a couple of minutes after Doughty’s goal. On the man advantage, again, Conor Garland fed Schmaltz from the point, where the latter walked it in against a trailing Blake Lizotte, firing a shot past Jonathan Quick.

“Yeah, obviously our penalty kill let us down tonight,” head coach Todd McLellan said after the game. “We made two critical mistakes, and they capitalized on the mistakes that we saw last year on our penalty killing. We think we’ve corrected them. They’re creeping back in, so we’ve got work to do there, and our inability to get clears was something that we’re really disappointed in.”

Thirteen seconds after Schmaltz gave the Coyotes the lead, the puck was dumped into the LA Kings zone on the faceoff, with Olli Maatta controlling the puck up against the end boards. The 26-year-old defenseman fed the puck to Michael Amadio, who coughed up the puck to a waiting Johan Larsson, who buried what felt like a dagger past Quick.

I’m not a betting man, but I’d be willing to go out on a limb that Michael Amadio could be close to being put on waivers. If not for Jaret Anderson-Dolan‘s injury, Amadio would likely still be riding the bench as a healthy scratch. Head coach Todd McLellan was critical of Amadio earlier this week, indicating he needs to see more from the LA Kings’ 2014 third-round pick.

“At this point in his career, he’s got to find a way now to take his opportunities and to produce with them,” McLellan said of his fourth-line center. “We’re counting on him, and I know he’s betting on himself, so that’s a good thing. Let’s see where it goes.”

In Wednesday’s game, Amadio accounted for a 29.3 xGF% (expected-goals-for), per NaturalStatTrick. After tallying six goals and ten assists a year ago, Amadio has just two assists through 17 games in the 2021 season. You’re telling me Lias Andersson can’t provide better minutes than Amadio right now? If I recall correctly, before JAD was inserted into the lineup, Andersson ignited the fourth line.

Todd McLellan indicated that Anderson-Dolan would likely miss the Blues series this weekend. I think the Kings have to give Andersson or someone else a look. Amadio’s time is up. The 24-year-old owns a 44.8 xGF% when on-ice this season, a far drop from his 55.6 xGF% last season. Something has to change before the next game.

In the third period, the LA Kings outshot the Coyotes 18-to-4, and Gabe Vilardi collected his sixth goal of the season. But it was too little, too late, as the LA Kings found themselves on the wrong side of three goals in the third consecutive game.

“Three, nothing Minnesota. Three, nothing Minnesota. Three, one Arizona. It’s great that we have that trait of crawling back and playing hard,” McLellan said, reflecting on the last three games. “But why are we getting to three on the wrong end of the stick so quick? And we got to figure that part out.”

dark. Next. Doughty molding Mikey Anderson into a leader

LA Kings Schedule

The LA Kings will look to get back into the win column, hosting the St. Louis Blues on Friday with puck drop set for 6 pm PT. The Blues are riding a three-game win streak.