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Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Kings: Coyotes pull the plug on L.A. in 5-4 victory

By Dan Arritt

Phoenix Coyotes 5, Kings 4 (SO)

Eight keys to the game:

THE FACTS: After finally experiencing a scoring spree following back-to-back shutout losses, the Kings caved in where they’ve been the most stable this season, allowing three power-play goals that wiped out a an early three-goal lead at Jobing.com Arena in Glendale, Ariz.

THE STAT: The Kings entered the game with the third-best penalty-kill unit in the NHL and having killed 23 of the previous 24 man advantages. Phoenix came in with the worst power-play unit, yet it was the Coyotes who scored on three of seven power plays, including the tying goal with 2:27 left in regulation.

TURNING POINT: Kings second-year forward Kyle Clifford, whose turnover allowed Phoenix to cut the deficit to 4-3 with 2:53 left in the second period, laid out Gilbert Brule with a hard check along the boards, which appeared to daze the 25-year-old center. Clifford was initially assessed a two-minute penalty, but after the referees conferred, they gave Clifford a five-minute major and game misconduct for an intent-to-injure violation. The teams skated four-on-four until a two-minute roughing penalty on Phoenix defenseman Keith Yandle expired, then Radim Vrbata scored his 30th goal of the season 1:46 into the three-minute power play to draw the Coyotes even, 4-4.

HOT: Kings rookie center Andrei Loktionov, goal-less in his first 32 games this season, scored the second of three goals in the opening period for the Kings, giving him three goals in the last five games.

NOT: Kings goalie Jonathan Quick was 10-0 in shootouts last season, the best winning percentage of any NHL goalie since the shootout was implemented following the lockout season of 2004-05. He allowed two goals in three shootout attempts by Phoenix, however, dropping his record to 4-8 in shootouts this season, the most losses of any netminder in the league. He also has a save percentage of just 54.8 percent in shootouts this season (22-38), compared to 81.8 percent last season (36-44).

GOOD MOVE: Kings coach Darryl Sutter put second-year defenseman Alec Martinez back in the lineup after he watched the last two as a healthy scratch. Martinez displayed his offensive touch, assisting on Loktionov’s goal and helping the Kings come out of their offensive funk. L.A. defensemen were responsible for a goal and three assists against the Coyotes.

BAD MOVE: Debate will likely continue as to whether Clifford deserved a five-minute major penalty for his check on Brule but the bottom line is, the Kings were a little more than six minutes away from a much-needed victory and they weren’t able to finish it off. It will be interesting to hear what the league office has to say about any supplementary discipline for Clifford.

NOTABLE: The Kings earned a point with the shootout loss, moving them from ninth in the Western Conference standings to eighth. The lost was the first by the Kings after leading by three goals since the season opener in 2005 against the Dallas Stars … Phoenix goalie Mike Smith had allowed one goal or less in his previous six starts, including a 1-0 shutout Thursday against the Kings at Staples Center.

UP NEXT: Wednesday at Colorado Avalanche, 6 p.m. PT.