So far this season, the best a game against the Arizona Coyotes has gone was a game where LA almost lost because a guy ran into Jake Muzzin's ass. Not sure why I expected this one to go better for the Los Angeles Kings.
Thankfully, Boyd Gordon only missed a week of action after that particular incident, so any lingering bitterness on either side stemming from the hit was probably long gone. That just left all the OTHER lingering bitterness from the last four years. You know, the bitterness from Mike Smith's slash, Dustin Brown's hit on Michal Rozsival, Shane Doan's antics, Jordan Nolan's preseason hit on Rusty Klesla, and so on and so forth. There will be more after tonight, thanks to Milan Lucic, who will have a hearing after this punch.
[at a supermarket] CLERK: Milan Lucic, we have your chill at the front of the store. Mr. Lucic, please come find your chill.— Jewels frm the Crown (@JFTC_Kings) January 24, 2016
That was simply the culmination of a very strange series of events, leading to neither side being very happy through 58 minutes. Understandably, the Kings bore the brunt of the frustrations, but for a while, the frustration was of their own doing. LA came out tremendously flat, and Arizona carried the play. Jonathan Quick made a few terrific saves early on, but eventually, the resistance broke. Shane Doan's chest scored late in the opening period, and the Kings were probably fortunate to be down just one after one.
Louis Domingue has been stellar for the Coyotes, and continued to be very good in this one, but he had a moment to forget in the second period. He collided with Tanner Pearson -- actually, Pearson collided with him -- and went down next to his own net. Bizarrely, instead of trying to scramble back to his net, he assumed a call would be made and took off his helmet to make sure the referee was paying attention. He was, all right, but he didn't make a call, and Nick Shore was only to happy to cash in.
That was the easiest goal of the night for either side, but the Coyotes found a wide-open finish of their own as they exploited LA's struggling penalty kill. The Kings have hummed along down a man all season but are only running a 75% success rate on the PK in January, and as Sheng noted, the recent aggressiveness on the penalty kill has cost them when the defensemen fail to make plays.
2nd straight game LAK allows backdoor one-timer on PK— Sheng Peng (@Sheng_Peng) January 24, 2016
Unfortunately, that PK was tested multiple times in the second as Arizona, still upset with the officials for not blowing the Shore goal down, watched Luke Schenn and Trevor Lewis get whistled for somewhat dubious stick fouls. After Schenn's hook, Max Domi got around Drew Doughty to make the cross-ice pass, and Brayden McNabb lunged at the feed but couldn't break it up. Doughty was also the culprit on the game-winner, an odd goal in which a very fast player scored a very fast goal.
In the midst of all this irritation, the one guy who continues to get up for games against Arizona is Dustin Brown. Brown's fifth goal of the year came off a friendly rebound, as Jeff Carter's shot rang off the post and caromed straight to the captain. That's the third straight game in which he's scored a goal against Arizona; if you do the math, you'll realize he's got more goals against the Coyotes than he does against the other 28 teams combined. He also drew a phantom call with a head snap, which can only endear himself to Coyotes fans even more.
Will he find a way to translate that Coyote productivity to his teammates in the next week? It certainly didn't translate at the end of this game; Darryl Sutter elected not to pull the goalie on an offensive zone draw with 1:50 to go, and the Kings never sniffed Domingue's net again. Sutter could (should?) have used his timeout after one of LA's two icings, but I'm not sure it would've made a difference, as the Coyotes did an impressive job of running out the clock in Quick's end. Arizona returns for one more matchup on February 2; hopefully, that's the last time LA has to deal with them in 2015-16.