Every Kings fan breathed a sigh of relief when one of 90 (90!) of their attempted shots hit the net in the third period, giving them a lead they'd hang on to for good. Before Dwight King pounced on a rebound and broke the tie, the score had been uncomfortably close, despite LA's dominance in the offensive zone.
You want to talk about zone time and possession? Oh yeah, the Kings had that in spades. They dominated chances so thoroughly, they broke this shot timeline chart.
But Mike Smith made 44 saves, his teammates blocked another 25 shots, and the Coyotes were able to capitalize on a flukey shot and and a miscue between Doughty and Quick to keep the score close.
Anze Kopitar opened the scoring in the first, ripping a backhand into the corner of the net. The Coyotes barely mustered any shots at all in the first -- but what could have been comfortable game for the Kings suddenly turned into a nailbiter when a shot by Derek Morris from center ice took a skip and went past Quick. Instead of being discouraged by the unexpected bad goal, the team resolved to win one for the goalie who had bailed them out so many times before.
Brown and Boedker traded goals, and the Kings--led by an outstanding effort from Kopitar's line--kept pressing. In the end, the shot barrage paid off, and Dwight King added an empty-netter to cap off the scoring. It was a fitting end to a wild night. As Dave Tippett said afterwards, the Coyotes were beaten "in every facet of the game."
Highlights and key questions after the jump.
Dustin Brown, when asked if the team had been frustrated at any point, replied: "We had a lot of shots, a lot of traffic...we just have to keep making it hard on Smith, and the longer they play in their d-zone, the more tired they're going to get. Over the course of the series, that's going to be to our advantage."
I'd like to hear your thoughts on these questions going forward:
1. Will Smith and the Coyotes be able to keep this up, or will the Kings be able to wear them down as Brown suggests? I'd expect Tippett to rip into them and demand a better effort next time--but do you think they have the size and skill to push back?
2. What did you think of the refereeing last night? The Kings' Twitter feed poked some fun at Kopitar earning a goalie interference penalty when he was pushed into Smith. Did you find any of the calls unusual, or is this typical of the reffing everyone's seen in the postseason?
3. Who is your unsung hero of the game? (Maybe Willie Mitchell's too sung at this point to qualify!)
4. What's the #1 thing you want to see any of the Kings improve on for game 2?
5. Who's your most hated Coyote so far? I'm not taking a shine to Smith myself. These teams already don't like each other, and it looks like the pot is ready to boil. We could have a few more candidates soon.
Tuesday can't come soon enough!