The Arizona Coyotes lost a shootout to the LA Kings on Thursday night, 3 to 2. The Kings are now only two points behind them with a game in hand.
Curious to see how their Arizona Coyotes would fare against an opponent other than the St. Louis Blues, the Yotes faithful had to be concerned when the Los Angeles Kings‘ Dustin Brown scored just 4:21 into the game on a defensive lapse in the Yotes’ “D” zone. Both Jason Demers and Oliver Ekman-Larsson skated into the right corner toward puck handling Anze Kopitar on the play, leaving Brown wide open behind them. Kopitar sent a nifty no-look, backhanded pass to Brown, who beat a helpless Darcy Kuemper, and it was quickly and easily 1 to 0.
The Coyotes play was sloppy and disorganized throughout the early portion of the first period. Their normal aggressive forechecking was absent and the “D” men looked confused. It was obvious that the Desert Dogs were not ready to play. They were out-hustled by the Kings, and at 11:50 the Kings scored again on a play to the immediate left of a sprawling Darcy Kuemper. Jeff Carter took several pokes at the stationary puck that was pinned to the post to Kuemper’s left, but the puck was inadvertently knocked in by Kuemper for a 2 to 0 lead.
Most likely as a result of a butt-chewing during the first intermission, the Coyotes appeared to be pretty much their normal selves from the start of the second period. Just one minute in, Conor Garland scored from the high slot with assists from Nick Schmaltz and Clayton Keller. Later, Phil Kessel scored at 5:51 on a rebound after Tyler Pitlick took the initial shot and then got a knocked into tomorrow by defender Drew Doughty. Kessel was on the doorstep, however, and sent the puck past Jonathan Quick to tie the score at 2. There wasn’t any more soring in the second period, but the Coyotes looked as though they had snapped out of their doldrums and were competing well with the Kings.
The third period was played pretty much to a draw, as neither team was able to create any sustained pressure in their respective offensive zones. As a result, the game ended in a 2 to 2 tie at the end of regulation time. The overtime period ended scoreless, so the game ended in a shootout with the Kings gaining the extra point.
It was evident that the Coyotes were not ready to play at the beginning of this game and the Kings took advantage of their lethargic effort. Fortunately for the Yotes, they were able to salvage a point, but hopefully they learned that they can’t afford to take their feet off the gas and coast, even for a shift, much less a period or a game.
The Kings victory, their third in a row, brought them to within 2 points of the Coyotes in the Honda West Division. The Yotes are in fourth place with 17 points, with the Kings right behind them with 15 points, and with a game in hand.
It’s critical that the Coyotes play an aggressive, consistent game from start to finish if they hope to beat the Kings on Saturday. Let’s go Coyotes!