Los Angeles Hockey: Keith Yandle

Kings: Anze Kopitar's goal ties score, 1-1 after two periods

May, 17, 2012
Western Conference finals

Game 3 (Kings lead the series, 2-0)

After the 2nd period:

Kings 1, Phoenix Coyotes 1

The good: The Kings have been outstanding when it comes to answering a goal by the opposition in these playoffs. That’s what happened after the Coyotes took a 1-0 lead 1:03 into the second period. After some hard work along the boards in the L.A. zone, Anze Kopitar came up with the puck and slid it to Dustin Brown in the middle of the ice. The Phoenix defense completely forgot about Kopitar at that point because he skated ahead and took a long stretch pass from Brown to give him a breakaway. He reached into his bag of shootout tricks and faked a forehead shot before dragging the puck to his backhand, forcing goalie Mike Smith to shoot out his left pad. That left a small opening between his legs and Kopitar finished the “can opener” move by sliding the puck through Smith pads, tying the score, 1-1, just over two minutes after Phoenix had scored. Phoenix got its first power play with about six minutes left, but the Kings killed it with no problem, even creating the only scoring chances.

The bad: The Coyotes caught L.A. napping on their goal as well. Keith Yandle brought the puck out of the defensive zone and looked up ice. Kings right wing Jeff Carter left the middle and went toward Taylor Pyatt on the wall, leaving Daymond Langkow unmarked. Yandle made a short pass ahead to Langkow and he had a step on Kings defensemen Alec Martinez, leaving his partner, Willie Mitchell, to try and close the gap. Before he could get there, Langkow let go of a wrist shot in the high slot and it trickled through the pads of goalie Jonathan Quick and across the goal line for a 1-0 lead. It was the first lead of the series for Phoenix, and the first time the Kings trailed since midway through the first period of Game 1 against the St. Louis Blues in the West semifinals, a span of 364 minutes 6 seconds. The Kings are getting destroyed in the faceoff circle, winning just 11 of 36 draws. The Kings also had five more giveaways in the second period, giving them 12 for the game.

The in between: Fans at Staples Center weren’t happy with Shane Doan’s reach-around on Brown's face, followed by Smith getting a free time out afterward to have his skates adjusted, just as the Kings were regrouping for another push following Kopitar’s goal. Doan has seven hits but no shots on goal in the game. Phoenix did get another after-the-whistle roughing penalty, but the Kings could not make them pay and are 1-for-23 with the man advantage at Staples Center during this postseason.

Kings: Coyotes pull the plug on L.A. in 5-4 victory

February, 21, 2012
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).

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