Arizona Coyotes roll along early but lose steam in third period in disappointing defeat to Kings, 4 to 3.
The Arizona Coyotes (19-16-5 43 pts) knew they were engaging in an important game with the Los Angeles Kings (15-17-6 36 pts) on Wednesday night. The black and silver clad boys’ backs were against the wall and they needed to get off their collective butts and actually compete with the determined, streaking Desert Dogs.
They didn’t sleep well, you see, because both Drew Doughty and coach Todd McLellan weren’t shy about stating that their team wasn’t worthy of the playoffs because of their lackluster effort against their nemesis, the Yotes, on Monday night.
Just about everyone expected a more physical game between the two because the Yotes embarrassed the Kings, but Coyotes fans were also waiting to see how their team would respond to the Kings’ offensive barrage that occurred late in the game on Monday. It was the Desert Dogs that had their backs to the boards in the third period, so adjustments needed to be made prior to the next game.
Well, the Yotes were in control of Wednesday night’s clash early on, scoring two goals in the first period, and perhaps got a little too comfortable.
Was the result going to be similar to Monday’s win over the desperate Kings? Nope, not at all.
The Kings snapped out of their funk when they scored the first of their goals late in the first, with the period ending at 2 to 1 for the Coyotes. The highlight of the initial frame was the goal scored by Yotes defenseman Ilya Lyubushkin. We all know by now that the fired up, aggressive Kings turned the tide and pressured the Coyotes in their “D” zone, ultimately scoring three unanswered goals.
It might have seemed like deja vu for the Yotes, who suffered the same indignity on Monday night, but at least the boys held on long enough to grab those two points. It didn’t end so well yesterday. Was it sheer exhaustion from playing too many games based upon an unforgiving schedule? It may have been a factor.
Remember when, just a few weeks ago, the Coyotes would almost sleep walk through the first few minutes of a game? “Way back then” they couldn’t always come alive, catch up and be competitive. Most recently, they’ve jumped on teams early and have scored goals, a wonderful turnabout indeed, but they’ve not always been able to compete for 60 minutes to close games out.
Well, Wednesday’s loss is history now, and the Coyotes travel to the glitz and glitter of Las Vegas to meet the second place VGK (25-11-2 52 pts). The Knights were beaten by the St. Louis Blues (17-16-6 40 pts), who are now only 3 points behind the 4th place Yotes, on Wednesday night.
As the Arizona Coyotes begin to face tougher teams in the ever-tightening Honda West Division’s playoff race, they’ll certainly need to figure out a way to tighten things up and stay the course on both ends of a game. Quick starts and strong finishes are essential elements to success. Let’s go Coyotes!