RECAP: Kings Destroy Fake Team
It's disappointing that they are not the Phoenix Coyotes any more because then I could say FAKEnix Coyotes to drive this point home further.
I hate the Coyotes so much. It isn't like, bitter rival hatred. It's more like, they're trash to watch and I would rather pour acid in my eyes than actually focus my eyeballs on a Kings/Coyotes broadcast.
Games against the Coyotes are frustrating because the Kings usually look like they are a lot better than the Coyotes but the results don't show up until they play in the last two weeks of May. The early going tonight was no different. The Kings came out punching, firing shots from left and right and front and center. The Coyotes had no answer.
Yet, they are the Coyotes, so when Jordan Martinook turned and slid a weak shot to the net, Jonathan Quick was befuddled. Unable to get his stick down in time to cover up his five-hole, the puck slide through him and just sneaked across the goal line to give the Coyotes a 1-0 lead.
That goal didn't slow down the Kings, though. They continued to play most of the game in Coyotes territory. Frankly, the Coyotes didn't have much of an answer. Interim TV play-by-play guy Nick Nickson and the ever-familiar Jim Fox could not stop raving about the team's performance.
Things appeared by be taking a very Coyotes turn late in the first when Luke Schenn seemd to get ejected from the game. He delivered a somewhat hard, somewhat high hit on Coyotes' defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Schenn didn't connect with Ekman-Larsson's head, but at full speed it was basically impossible to tell if Schenn left his feet before or after making contact. Fortunately, after convening to discuss what had happened, the officials decided to give Schenn just a two-minute minor penalty. Then, even more fortuitously, Coyotes' captain Shane Doan took a penalty to even things up.
The Kings wouldn't score on that power play - which crossed over into the second period - but it still felt as if it was only a matter of time before they notched the equalizer. Finally, on the Kings' next power play, Jake Muzzin tied the game. He rifled a beautiful shot over Louis Domingue's right shoulder - short side, from the far wall - past the effective screen put up by Jeff Carter. It was very reminiscent of the goal he scored on Corey Crawford in game 2 of the 2014 Western Conference Finals.
However, their run of good fortune (briefly) ran out. Unejected Luke Schenn and Alec Martinez teamed up for a rough defensive shift. After Martinez failed to clear the puck, young Coyotes forward Anthony Duclair found himself skating through the slot. Duclair fired a shot back against the flow of traffic, and Quick wasn't able to get a piece of it. The Coyotes, despite getting largely dominated, were once again on top.
Undeterred, the Kings continued to pour on pressure.
Much like their first goal, it felt as if it was just a matter of time before the Kings tied the game again. Also much like their first goal, a Kings defender found himself with the puck at the far point with Jeff Carter providing net-front presence. This time, Alec Martinez fired the shot that tied the game. Another power play goal, another new game.
Following a quiet and comfortable half-period, a good break found the Kings. After a Coyote broke his stick in the offensive zone, Marian Gaborik and Dwight King took the puck up ice on a 2-on-1. Gaborik skated in on the right wing. A slight feign to King put the defender firmly in the passing lane, and Gaborik immediately rifled a shot past Louis Domingue to put the Kings on top for the first time in the game.
Just moments later, Dustin Brown experienced some good luck of his own. Yes, that's right. Dustin Brown had some good luck. Brown dumped the puck in on net from the center ice circle, and a funny hop took it straight past Louis Domingue.
It was a stunning turn of events for the Kings. A team that usually gets done in by bad luck against mediocre teams managed to stumble into some good fortune of their own. Combine that with a typically-dominant Kings performance, and the Kings headed to the 3rd period with a 4-2 lead.
If Domingue was rattled, he wasn't showing it. Just kidding, that's a silly cliche. Domingue almost immediately gave up another bad goal to Dustin Brown. After a strong defensive play by Nick Shore, Brown turned the play back on the Coyotes. Brown skated through the center of the ice toward the right circle. From outside the dot, he fired a shot across the play back to the far post. It handcuffed Domingue, who then went to the bench to take the rest of the night off.
It's hard to argue that the results were anything other than justified. WIth 15 minutes left in the 3rd, shots were 26-18 Kings. They had bombarded the Coyotes with high quality chances all night long. The Kings were strong, a little bit lucky, and even beneficiaries of a bad goaltending performance for once. It was a perfect storm.
Following the goalie switch, the Coyotes sought a change in momentum. What they found instead was the quickest route to the penalty box. Maybe they thought Anders Lindback needed to warm up.
On one scoreless power play, the Coyotes were probably lucky to escape without facing a 5-on-3. Antoine Vermette took out a Kings' defender on a desperate slide after he lost his stick. It's okay, though, because Michael Stone would pick up the slack with a penalty of his own.
On the ensuing power play, the Kings poured dirt on the grave. It was once again a connection between a defender and a center standing in front of the Coyotes net. Martinez skated along the near boards toward the goal line and rifled a shot-pass to Vinny Lecavalier. Lecavalier was able to position his stick perfectly in order to elevate the puck over Lindback. It was their third power play goal of the game, the first time they've scored three power play goals in a single game this season.
After a retaliatory slash sent Milan Lucic to the penalty box, Anthony Duclair put his name on the scoresheet again. With a penalty. Not a goal. Jokes, my friends, jokes.
The rest of the game proceeded without much incident. The Kings took another penalty and killed it rather quietly. There were a couple hard hits. Nobody died. Kings win!
Thankfully, it's the last time we see the Coyotes this regular season. There's a chance they show up at Staples Center in the playoffs, but it's a bridge I really would rather not cross. I just. I hate watching them so much, you guys. The Kings stretched their lead over the second place Sharks to 9 points (results pending) and the third place Coyotes to 12 points.
The Kings will get a day off before playing the Ducks on NBCSN Thursday night.