Arizona Coyotes Cruise By Sluggish Kings 4 to 0, Regain Playoff Spot

Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports /

The Arizona Coyotes played well and defeated the Los Angeles Kings 4 to 0 at the Staples Center, regaining 4th place in the standings.

The Arizona Coyotes were no longer in 4th place when they took the ice on Saturday night, as the St. Louis Blues (20-19-6 46 points) were able to beat the Colorado Avalanche (31-10-4 66 points) 5 to 3 in a physical, playoff-intense game at Enterprise Center earlier in the day.

The other team chasing the Coyotes and the Blues for the fourth playoff spot is the San Jose Sharks, (18-24-5 41 points) who hosted the third place Minnesota Wild (31-13-3 65 points) on Saturday evening. The Wild won that game 6 to 3 after scoring their first goal just 19 seconds into the game, and the win guaranteed a well-earned playoff spot for the Minnesota team.

The Coyotes and Los Angeles Kings (17-21-6 40 points) took center stage with the Yotes trying to win the game to get back into the playoffs by leapfrogging the Blues, and put the Kings even further behind them in the standings.

Coyotes forward John Hayden scored his first goal of the year 12:47 into the first period on a feed from Derick Brassard from behind the Kings’ net. It was Brassard’s 500th NHL point. Thirty-six seconds into the second period, Lawson Crouse scored his 4th goal of the season by redirecting an Alex Goligoski shot from near the blue line. Jakob Chychrun scored his NHL-leading 14th goal as a defenseman in the third period, and then Phil Kessel rifled a shot past L.A. goalkeeper Cal Petersen’s right shoulder and into the net at 12:56 into the final frame. It was his 17th tally of the season.

In essence, the Coyotes took advantage of a tired Kings team that had played a physical game on Friday night, but because the Yotes stuck to their plan of keeping the Kings’ forwards away from the center of the ice and along the wings, the Kings were never able to score. Darcy Kuemper made sure of that.

The Coyotes are now a single point ahead of the St. Louis Blues, 7 points clear of the Kings, and 6 points in front of the Sharks, who they play on Monday and Wednesday nights in California. The Blues, however, have an advantage in that they still have 3 games in hand over the Coyotes and could eventually leapfrog over them and hang on to the 4th spot by winning those three contests. It all hinges on what the Arizona Coyotes do in their final 8 games.

The Coyotes play the Sharks on Monday night and again on Wednesday before returning home to host the Vegas Golden Knights on Friday, April 30 and on Saturday, May 1 at GRA. They then host the L.A. Kings on Monday, May 3 and Wednesday May 5 before traveling to San Jose to close out their regular season on May 7 and 8.

If the Coyotes won their 8 remaining games in regulation time, they would end the season with 63 points. If they won 4 of the 8, they’d have 55 points. If the Blues ran their 11-game table in regulation time, they would end up with 68 points. If they won 7 of the 11 they’d have 60 points. Of course neither of these scenarios will come to fruition, but it helps demonstrate the need for the Arizona Coyotes to maximize their wins against the Sharks and the Kings since they no longer have to play the Blues this season. They have very little margin for error.

On paper, it appears that the St. Louis Blues have a much steeper hill to climb than the Coyotes, but games aren’t played on paper and the Blues have enough skill and character on their team to grab that coveted 4th place spot. The Coyotes apparently have the “easier” schedule yet are the ones under the most pressure, as their notoriously-inconsistent play has resulted in only 6 points in their past ten games.

Following Monday’s results, the picture may become a little more clear, as the Blues host the Avalanche, the Kings host the Ducks, and the Desert Dogs visit San Jose. Let’s go Coyotes!