Sunday, May 13, 2012
Kings roll over Phoenix in West final opener
By Dan Arritt
Western Conference finals
Los Angeles Kings 4, Phoenix Coyotes 2
Eight keys to the game:
THE FACTS: The Kings jumped on the Coyotes from the first drop of the puck Sunday night, gave away a pair of one-goal leads at Jobing.com Arena in Glendale, Ariz., but then buckled down in the third period and scored two unanswered goals to win their sixth consecutive road game of these playoffs.
THE STAT: The Kings are just the fifth team in NHL playoff history to win their first six road games, one short of the NHL record for most consecutive road playoff wins in a single year. The Kings have won eight consecutive playoff games away from Staples Center overall, one shy of another NHL record set by the New York Islanders in 1982-83. The Kings are 9-1 in this postseason, the best 10-game stretch of the season.
TURNING POINT: After letting leads of 1-0 and 2-1 get away, Dustin Brown scored his seventh goal of the playoffs and third game winner. Kings rookie defenseman Slava Voynov got the play started, sliding a perfect outlet pass to Brown, who was racing past the red line. Brown was able to maintain his speed as he carried the puck into the offensive zone, keeping a stride ahead of the nearest Phoenix defender. Brown placed his shot perfectly under the right arm of goalkeeper Mike Smith for a 3-2 lead 2:11 into the final period.
HOT: The Kings were on fire from the start, outshooting the Coyotes, 17-4, in the opening 20 minutes. They finished with a 48-27 edge in shots on net, taking 90 shots in all. Phoenix managed to block 25, so the Coyotes will certainly have a few black-and-blue marks come Monday. Defensively, the Kings wiped out all five power plays by the Coyotes, giving them 24 straight kills in these playoffs.
NOT: Kings second-line right wing Jeff Carter continues to be one of the few under-performing members of the team. He managed just one shot on goal and was a minus-1 for the game. He had a golden opportunity to give the Kings a 2-0 lead in the first period, but he elected to corral the puck with an empty net in front of him, rather than take a swipe. By the time he gathered to shoot, Smith had closed the gap and got a glove on the puck. Carter, acquired at the trade deadline to give the Kings some extra offensive firepower down the stretch and into the postseason, has one goal in 10 playoff games. The foot injury that sidelined him the final five games of the regular season could still be a hindrance.
GOOD MOVE: With the score tied 1-1 about eight minutes into the second period, Voynov slid the puck out of the defensive zone to Trevor Lewis, who was waiting on the wall near the red line. Lewis redirected the puck into the middle of the ice, where Kings rookie forward Dwight King was all alone to start a 2-on-1 rush with Mike Richards. King passed the puck to Richards on his right and raced toward the opposite post. Richards showed his awareness and shot the puck at Smith’s right pad, leaving a plumb rebound for King to flip high into the open side of the net.
BAD MOVE: It was 10 years ago that Nicklas Lidstrom of the Red Wings scored from center ice in Game 3 of the Western Conference first-round series against Vancouver, beating goalie Dan Cloutier to break a 1-1 tie in the eventual 3-1 victory. The eighth-seeded Canucks were up in the series, 2-0, heading into that game and went on to lose four straight games. Many saw the Lidstrom goal as the turning point of the series. In a near repeat, Derek Morris of the Coyotes scored from center ice against Kings goalie Jonathan Quick, tying the score 1-1 at a time when L.A. was completely dominating the opening period. Fortunately for the Kings, that play did not come back to haunt them.
NOTABLE: King added an empty-netter with 47.7 seconds left in the game, becoming the first Kings rookie to score two goals in a playoff game in 30 years. The Coyotes have been outshot in 10 of their 12 postseason games.