Arizona Coyotes Bring Physical Play to Los Angeles, Win 3 to 2

Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

The Arizona Coyotes were uncharacteristically physical in their game against the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday night, and it certainly paid dividends.

After a few days of practice and some much-needed rest, the Arizona Coyotes took to the Staples Center ice on Wednesday night with a vengeance. With the memory of two defeats at the hands of the Los Angeles Kings at Gila River Arena on their minds, the Yotes took the game to the Kings from the opening faceoff.

Tyler Pitlick set the tone early, “introducing” himself to Kings’ players by way of massive hits. His actions proved infectious, as his teammates played the same way. There were hits galore throughout, but there were penalties too, with most of the games’ 5 goals being scored via the power play.

The Coyotes scored all three of their goals in the second period, with goals two and three coming just 13 seconds apart. Clayton Keller (7 G 8 A 15 pts) scored the Yotes’ first on a power play, but it didn’t take long for the Kings’ Drew Doughty to score his sixth of the season to tie things up on an L.A. power play.

Forward Nick Schmaltz (7 G 8 A 15 pts) scored the Coyotes second goal, again on the power play. Just thirteen seconds later, Kings’ Michael Amadio mishandled the puck deep in his own “D” zone, and a surprised yet very thankful Johan Larsson gathered it in and lasered a shot past frustrated goalkeeper Jonathan Quick, increasing the score to 3 to 1.

The Coyotes aggressive play was a welcome sight to see, and their tight forechecking allowed the Yotes to pin the Kings in their own end. Keeping the likes of Kopitar, Brown, Carter, and Doughty busy in their “D” zone is certainly an effective way to neutralize their scoring potential. Yet in the third period the Kings outshot the Coyotes 18 to 4, but surprisingly could only manage to score one more goal by Gabe Vilardi.

If the Coyotes can maintain the fast-paced and physical play that they impressively showed on Wednesday night, they can compete with just about anybody. It is difficult to play that way for 60 minutes, however, without the buy-in of the entire team. All four lines need to aggressively forecheck and be willing to hit someone or take a hit to make a play. As we’ve seen all too often, the Yotes get themselves into trouble when they play helter skelter, undisciplined hockey and commit penalties.

The Coyotes (10-9-3) win put them back into 5th place in the Honda West Division, boosting them over the Kings by one point at 23. It will be interesting to see if they can carry over their Wednesday night success to Friday night’s game against the high-flying Minnesota Wild.