[March 18, 2014]LOS ANGELES — In danger of
suffering a crucial loss after blowing another two-goal lead, the
Phoenix Coyotes rallied to capture a vital two points in the Western
Conference playoff chase Monday.
They did it by forcing a rare late-game capitulation from the Los
Winger Jeff Halpern scored the game-winning goal, and Mike Smith
made 36 saves as the Coyotes defeated the Kings 4-3 at Staples
Phoenix (33-25-11) broke a two-game losing streak and remained in
the thick of the Western Conference wild-card race. The Kings
(37-25-6) lost their third consecutive game.
The defeat marked the first time this season the Kings lost despite
leading after two periods. Los Angeles fell in regulation for just
the second time in over the past 139 regular-season games when it
led after 40 minutes.
Smith's performance was more impressive considering he was not at
full strength. He caught a flu bug Sunday night and was questionable
to play Monday.
"Once you get in the game, the adrenaline takes over," Smith said.
"I lacked a bit of energy, but this is no time for being sick."
Halpern's fourth goal of the season came after a review at 16:55 of
the third period, as his shot from the goalmouth appeared to be
saved by Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick.
The Kings' usual defensive prowess was absent. They made
uncharacteristic errors in their own zone throughout the game and
paid the price.
"I think we could have been a little bit more desperate on the two
(third-period) goals they scored in terms of making plays in our own
zone," Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. "That is back-to-back games
where we have made basic checking mistakes in our own zone."
Faced with the prospect of losing further ground to the Dallas Stars
(32-24-11) for the West's final playoff spot, the Coyotes rallied to
win when trailing after two periods for the seventh time this
season. The victory moved two points above Dallas, though the Stars
hold two games in hand.
"We just got back to playing how we were in the first period, and
other than that early power play they got where they generated some
chances, and I thought we played very well," Coyotes coach Dave
Tippett said. "The third period went our way, pucks went deep and we
had people going to the net hard."
The Coyotes rallied from a poor second period to tie the game on
defenseman Keith Yandle's eighth goal of the season at 9:44 of the
final period. An errant clearing pass by Kings defenseman Matt
Greene from behind his own net wound up on Yandle's stick, and the
subsequent shot from 55 feet eluded Quick.
"I don't think I played well enough," Quick said. "You give up four
goals you are going to lost the game. I have to be better."
Los Angeles used two second-period goals to forge a 3-2 lead at the
second intermission. The Kings evened the score at 2-2 at 6:50 on
defenseman Alec Martinez's eighth goal of the season. Winger Jeff
Carter circled the net after a rush down the right side, and his
pass was one-timed past an unsuspecting Smith for the equalizer.
Winger Marian Gaborik gave Los Angeles its first lead of the night
at 18:19 of the second period. Gaborik converted a feed from Kopitar
in the slot for his eighth goal of the season and second in a Los
The Coyotes scored twice in just over a minute in the first period
to take a 2-0 lead. Right winger Radim Vrbata flipped a shot that
was knocked in by left winger Rob Klinkhammer for his 11th goal of
the season at 6:34.
Phoenix doubled its lead with a power-play goal by winger Mikael
Boedker just over a minute later. Boedker took a feed in the slot
from defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson and backhanded a shot from 20
feet past Quick for his 17th goal of the season at 7:36.
Los Angeles crept to within one on rookie winger Tanner Pearson's
second goal of the season at 17:02 of the first period.
Quick finished with 23 saves.
NOTES: Phoenix scratched D David Schlemko, RW Martin Erat, LW Paul
Bissonnette, C Andy Miele and D Brandon Gormley. ... Coyotes C Mike
Ribeiro is one assist short of his ninth consecutive season with at
least 30. ... Phoenix C Martin Hanzal returned to the lineup after
missing seven games due to injury. The Coyotes were 5-2-0 during his
absence. ... Los Angeles did not dress RW Dustin Brown and D Jake
Muzzin. ... The Kings will start a stretch of five games against
Eastern Conference competition Thursday when the Washington Capitals
visit Staples Center. The Kings are 16-8-3 against the East this
season. ... C Anze Kopitar is tied with Mike Murphy for eighth in
Kings history with 194 goals.