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Phoenix Coyotes captain Shane Doan could face a suspension for his hit on Trevor Lewis in Game 2 of the Western Conference Final.
Antoine Vermette has also been key to their success this postseason, and he'll need to remain so to help them solve the Los Angeles Kings.
The Kings needed an empty-net goal to assure victory, but Coyotes coach Dave Tippett was right when he says Game 1 wasn't even close.
There were plenty of great tweets from the Kings in Period 3, but none of them can top this one. They don't even belong on the same page as this one, really.
Okay, wait. This one too:
@mariemondieu You realize we are the team's local ice hockey team, right? We will not compete against the Celtics without some rule changes— LA Kings (@LAKings) May 14, 2012
Dwight King sealed the Los Angeles Kings' Game 1 win with his second goal of the game, an empty-netter with 48 seconds left on the clock. Just a simple shot from center ice that found its way to the back of the net. No goalie in there, though. King's not Derek Morris or anything.
The Coyotes really put together a valiant effort. The Kings took 90 attempts (!) at the Coyotes net as compared to 56 attempts at the Los Angeles net by Phoenix, but somehow they were able to lay down in front of many of them. Mike Smith was solid yet again, but ultimately, you can't allow 48 shots to hit your goaltender and expect to win.
Phoenix put on a charge late before pulling Smith from his crease, but that's when Jonathan Quick shined just a little brighter than his counterpart. He may have made a mistake on the Morris goal, and he may have been partially at fault for Mikkel Boedker's goal, but Quick was great when it mattered most late in the game.
The Los Angeles Kings continued their road dominance in the Western Conference playoffs, moving their road record to 6-0 this season with a convincing 4-2 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes in Game 1.
But while LA out-shot Phoenix 48-27, the final outcome was in doubt until Dwight King scored on an empty-net goal at the 19:12 mark in the third.
The Coyotes scored a goal in each of the first two periods, but they couldn't match Dustin Brown's go-ahead goal at the 2:11 mark in the third period.
Brown received a nice outlet pass from Slava Voynov to get a break-away, which he converted with a wrist-shot from 33 feet out:
With early momentum in the series now firmly on their side, LA will try to sweep both games in Phoenix in Tuesday's Game 2.
There’s been a lot of talk during Game 1 about the dominant play of Dustin Brown, and it’s all absolutely deserving, but his counterpart wearing a ‘C’ for the Coyotes is doing his best to keep Phoenix in this game.
Doan has been an absolutely monster in Game 1. He’s winning all kinds of puck battles, he’s unreal on the forecheck and around the net — doesn’t matter which net, really — Doan is the last person the Kings want to see in their face. He’s hit a number of Los Angeles players both in the play and behind it, and it certainly looked like he cross-checked a Kings player up near the throat in a late third-period scrum.
Doan has never been this deep in the playoffs. He’s not leaving anything on the ice now that he’s here.
Get it? Because he plays for the Kings? [crickets]
Anyway, pretty solid flop job here:
... because why not.
What's the old hockey cliche? They'll always call the retaliation, even if they don't call the initial penalty? Yep, that's the one. Martin Hanzal probably should have known better. At least he left Jarret Stoll a jab he'll remember.
Still, giving the Kings a power play -- as bad as their power play may be -- while they lead by a goal in the third period is not what one wants to do.
It's certainly fitting that Dustin Brown has broken the 2-2 tie between the Kings and Coyotes in the third period. The Los Angeles captain has played unbelievable hockey all evening long in Game 1, and it was his laser beam of a wrist shot from 33 feet out that beat Mike Smith and gave the Kings their third lead of the hockey game, 3-2.
It was a pretty outlet pass from Slava Voynov that beat two back-checking Coyotes to find Brown near center ice. From there, it wasn't all that hard for Brown, who simply released a gorgeous shot before Shane Doan could catch up to him.
The Kings haven't sat back since the goal, going in hard on the forecheck and pushing multiple bodies deep into the offensive end of the ice. It's admirable strategy, for sure, but you never know when that sort of play could come back to bite you in a one-goal game.
Kopitar gets pushed into Mike Smith and will go off for goaltender interference. Really, this is just what happened.— LA Kings (@LAKings) May 14, 2012
Morris tries from the blue line this time and Quick makes the stop. He's on to you, Derek.— LA Kings (@LAKings) May 14, 2012
It seems the "whiteout" has turned into some strange white halloween costume contest.— LA Kings (@LAKings) May 14, 2012
Dustin Brown with the breakway opportunity and that's just good "defense" there by the 'Yotes.— LA Kings (@LAKings) May 14, 2012
As the end of the second period, it certainly feels like the Coyotes are more involved in this game than they were following the first period. Phoenix has been able to generate some zone time and they’ve certainly been more physical, led primarily by Shane Doan. The captain has laid down at least three big hits — two against Mike Richards and one on Drew Doughty.
And of course, they’ve tied the score. It’s 2-2 after two periods thanks to a late second-period goal from Mikkel Boedker.
But the numbers paint a similar picture as the first 20 minutes, and it’s really pretty shocking that Phoenix is in this game at all. After getting outshot 32-9 (on goal, missed shots and shots that were blocked) in the first period, the Coyotes were outshot 34-23 in pucks directed at the net in the second period. Much closer than in the first, but still an absolutely dominant possession performance by the Kings.
Los Angeles has tried 66 shots in two periods. 34 have gone on net, 21 have been blocked on their way and 11 have missed the goal completely. Phoenix has put fewer shots in the direction of Jonathan Quick than the Kings have put on Smith’s goal. Yet somehow, this game is tied at 2-2 after two periods.
Hockey’s a weird game sometimes, and right now, the Kings have to be at least a little frustrated that their utter dominance is failing to pay off.
What a play by Antoine Vermette. It was pretty gutsy to jump into a play where a near-collision with goalie Jonathan Quick was a real possibility, but Vermette got past the goalie, pressured the puck away from defenseman Drew Doughty and turned it into a goalie to tie this Game 1 at 2-2.
Had Vermette taken the more conservative route to the outside of Quick, he likely wouldn't have reached Doughty in time to get the puck. Instead, he was able to deliver the hit and tap the puck over to Shane Doan, who found Mikkel Boedker all alone in front of the net for the easy goal. Quick never could really get back into position after leaving his crease, either.
Los Angeles has had an overwhelming edge in puck possession and shots on goal through the first 40 minutes of Game 1, but Phoenix has responded with timely goals both times they trailed.
The score is now tied 2-2 at the end of the second period.
Talk about textbook execution on this 2-on-1 by Mike Richards and Dwight King. Michal Roszival did all he could do on the defensive side of the puck, but Richards put the puck in a perfect spot on goaltender Mike Smith, and even with the best rebound control in the world, Smith had no choice but to put the puck right in a spot where King could deposit it into the back of the net with ease.
The 2-on-1 was cause by the pinching of the Coyotes defense. Both David Schlemko -- only in the lineup because of the injury to veteran defenseman Adrian Aucoin -- and Gilbert Brule got a little too aggressive going after the puck at the blue line, and when Richards knocked it past the defense, it was an easy go for the Kings in the other direction.
Settin' the tone. Shane Doan came to play. Other playoff cliches.
First, in response to a Phoenix fan bragging about a giant flying taco:
@vrbalicious Jealousy. Right. That's our first reaction.— LA Kings (@LAKings) May 13, 2012
And now to the game:
Thankfully they don't have three-pointers in the NHL. 1-1 game here as Morris scores from the red line for the 'Yotes.— LA Kings (@LAKings) May 14, 2012
Brown takes down Rozsival which, apparently, warrants a howling sound. What doesn't here?— LA Kings (@LAKings) May 14, 2012
Just look at exactly how many shots the Kings have attempted in total in comparison to Phoenix. Eleven Kings shot attempts were blocked by the Coyotes in the first 20 minutes, and L.A. missed another four attempts. That's 32 total attempts at the Coyotes goal --- in 20 minutes of hockey. Dustin Brown led the way (as you already know) with three shots on goal, two attempts blocked and one missed shot.
In addition to those four shots on goal Phoenix took, they had four missed shots and one shot blocked by the Kings. Use your math and you'll see that the total shot differential in the first period was 32 to nine, or plus-23 in favor of Los Angeles.
The score might be tied thanks to a downright silly Derek Morris goal from center ice, but Phoenix has zero chance in this game if they can't find an answer in the second and third periods.
Rostislav Klesla is having a rough week. First, he was suspended for a hit in the Coyotes' series against the Nashville Predators. He missed Game 5 of the Western Semifinals as a result, and he's making his return in Game 1 against the Kings. He's already been demolished by a hit from L.A. captain Dustin Brown, and then later in the first period, Brown hit Klesla in the face with a shot:
Tough to tell if it caught his face or the visor/helmet, but still. It definitely stung Klesla a bit.
At the 13:26 mark in the first period, Morris caught Jonathan Quick sleeping, firing a laser beam from center ice that Quick never really picked up:
LA controlled the puck for most of the first period, pressuring Mike Smith early and getting 16 shots on goal to only 4 from Phoenix.
The Kings drew first blood, with Dustin Brown drawing three defenders near the Coyotes net and dishing to the open Anze Kopitar, who whistled a back-handed shot past Mike Smith at the 3:53 mark in the first period:
Both teams successfully killed penalties in the game's first 20 minutes, with the Coyotes surviving a 2:00 minute roughing penalty on Smith right after Kopitar's goal and the Kings surviving a 2:00 minute high-sticking penalty on Matt Greene.
Jonathan Quick gave up a center ice goal in the first period of Game 1. It was pretty hilarious (unless you're a Kings fan). Quick had to feel pretty awful afterwards, but it's okay. That's not the first time the Los Angeles goaltender has felt that way.
Mike Richards really has his head in the game, you could say.
What a backbreaker. The Kings had a 13-to-four edge in shots and an absolutely dominant edge in possession time, and then Derek Morris scored from center ice at the 13:26 mark of the first period in Game 1. Seriously. If there's one thing that could have possibly gone wrong for Los Angeles with the way they've played this first period, it's this.
Talk about an awful break.
The puck just flew all the way down the ice and utterly fooled Jonathan Quick. It was a heads-up play by Morris to shoot the puck so hard though, for sure. Quick could just never pick up the laser beam.
Bouncy pucks happen, but is it possible that puck doesn't bounce nearly that much if it's not 100-plus degrees outside in Glendale today? Or upon replay, did the puck never even bounce? Your call.
Matt Greene complained his way all the way to the penalty box after being whistled for high-sticking at the 9:56 mark of the first. Safe to say he disagreed with the call. What do you think? Was this a high-stick?
With the way the Coyotes have been pinned back in their own end early on in Game 1, they've needed Mike Smith to make a few big saves for them. Frankly, they're lucky the score is only 1-0, and they have their goaltender to thank for that.
Was only a matter of time. In the first 3:53 of the first period of Game 1, the Los Angeles Kings controlled the puck for basically the entire stretch. On the one chance Phoenix had where they controlled possession, they stuttered offsides and gave position right back to the Kings.
So when Dustin Brown drew three defenders his way near the Coyotes net and dished the puck off to a wide-open Anze Kopitar, it wasn't particularly surprising that the backhand shot found the back of the net behind Mike Smith. 1-0 Kings.
Phoenix killed a penalty after the goal, and while the Kings aren't all that great a power play team -- pretty awful, actually -- it's just a continuation of the dominance L.A. has shown so far in the hockey game.
Seriously, that just happened. The Coyotes have waited … well, for their entire existence for this, and the Kings have waited since 1993 to get to the Conference Finals. And now that they’ve made it, the NBC Sports Network broadcast missed the opening face off. Not sure how that’s even possible at this stage of the game.
There is a flying gigantic taco in the building tonight.— LA Kings (@LAKings) May 13, 2012
The Phoenix Coyotes will be without a key defenseman in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals against the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday night. Adrian Aucoin suffered an undisclosed injury in the Coyotes Game 5 win over the Nashville Predators in the Western Conference Semifinals, and he hasn’t practiced since.
Coyotes coach Dave Tippett made the announcement on Saturday afternoon during his pre-series press conference.
Aucoin skated Sunday morning according to NHL.com, but it wasn’t a hard skate. David Schlemko will make just his fourth start of the postseason in Aucoin’s place. The Coyotes will get a boost in Game 1 on defense even despite Aucoin’s absence, though, as Rostislav Klesla returns from a one-game suspension.
For more on the Coyotes, check in with Five For Howling and SB Nation Arizona. For more on the Los Angeles Kings, check in with SB Nation Los Angeles and Jewels From The Crown. For full coverage of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, stick with SB Nation’s NHL hub and our network of hockey blogs.
The Western Conference Finals begin Sunday night with the Phoenix Coyotes hosting the LA Kings in Game 1.
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