Western Conference final
Game 4 (Kings lead the series, 3-0)
After the 1st period:
Phoenix Coyotes 1, Kings 0
The good: The Kings generally outplayed the Coyotes in every category but the scoreboard. They kept Phoenix without a shot on goal the first seven minutes and ended up with a 10-5 edge in shots on net. All four lines had their moments during the period, including a solid first shift by the third line of Jarret Stoll, Trevor Lewis and Dwight King. Lewis also nearly scored L.A.’s fifth shorthanded goal of the playoffs, speeding down the left side on a breakaway before Coyotes goalie Mike Smith held his ground and came up with one of his 10 saves in the period. Smith had been tough on the road in the playoffs, recording two shutouts along the way, so the Kings will need to be even more precise with their shots. Seven have been off target so far and two were blocked.
The bad: A phantom goalie interference call on Justin Williams put the Coyotes on the power play for the second time in the game. They cashed this one in for the first time in the series, and the first time since Game 1 of the Nashville series in the previous round. Shane Doan did most the work himself, receiving a pass just outside the right post. The Kings gave him room to operate and he skated above the goal line, then flicked a backhand over the right shoulder of goalie Jonathan Quick with 5:41 remaining in the period. It was just the third shot on goal for Phoenix, and ended a streak of 30 consecutive penalty kills by the Kings. Phoenix left wing Ray Whitney, who received a roughing penalty 75 seconds into the game, recorded an assist on the play for his first point of the series. The Kings trail for just the fifth time in the playoffs. They’ve come back to win the other four. The Kings continue to struggle on the power play in the postseason, going 0-for-2 in the first period.
The in between: Not only has Phoenix center Martin Hanzal returned from his one-game suspension for boarding Kings captain Dustin Brown in Game 2, but the Coyotes welcomed back defenseman Adrian Aucoin, who missed the first four games of this series after suffering an injury in Game 5 of the second round against the Nashville Predators. The additions give the Coyotes some added depth in the front and back, and leave them no more excuses if they lose this game.