GLENDALE, Ariz. – Down 3-0 and totally outplayed after 20 minutes, Phoenix Coyotes winger Ray Whitney said No. 1 goal after the first intermission was not to be embarrassed at home by Los Angeles.
"We felt like we got our (butts) kicked and if we didn't get going, we were going to get blown out," Whitney said. "We didn't have any compete in our game at all, and if we didn't want it to get a lot worse, we had to start playing some hockey."
And once they started playing, the Coyotes that entered the night with 15 points in eight games this month were off and running again.
The Coyotes roared back into contention with three goals of their own in the second period, tied the game on Radim Vrbata's 30th goal of the season with 2:27 left in regulation and used shootout tallies by Ray WhitneyMikkel Boedker to finish off a wild 5-4 win Tuesday night at Jobing.com Arena.
Vrbata and Shane Doan each scored twice and Martin Hanzal tied a career high with three assists as Phoenix improved its February record to 8-0-1, pulled even in points with the Pacific Division-leading San Jose Sharks (who have two games in hand) and sent an already soaring team confidence to new levels.
Phoenix goalie Mike Smith, who had allowed only four goals in his last six games, gave up three in the first 14:14 of the game and put the Coyotes in a deep hole. But he allowed only one more the rest of the way, while his teammates reveled in a change to win one for him for a change.
"Smitty didn't like his first period – none of liked our first periods – but he's been so good for us on so many nights that we really wanted this one for him," said Doan, who collected the 41st two-goal game of his career with a pair less than 12 minutes apart in the second. "He shuts the door the rest of the way and in the shootout he wins it for us. It felt good to give him a second shot at this one."
Doan had the best chance to score in overtime, but Los Angeles goalie Jonathan Quick went post to post to deny him a hat trick and force a shootout. After Whitney and Dustin Brown of the Kings matched goals in the first two rounds, Boedker slipped a shot under Quick's shoulder in the third round before Los Angeles' Jack Johnson shot wide to end it.
Phoenix, dead last in the League on the power play at 12.5 percent, collected three power-play goals in a game for the first time since the season-opener on Oct. 8 in San Jose – two of them in the first 5:24 of the second period to get back in the game. The Kings have allowed four power-play goals in their last 30 chances, and Vrbata has three of them.
Vrbata's second of the night came after Los Angeles winger Kyle Clifford was assessed a five-minute match penalty for an illegal hit to the head of Phoenix's Gilbert Brule, who had to be helped off the ice. Clifford is suspended pending an official review by NHL Senior Vice President of Player Safety Brendan Shanahan.
"It is what it is … but they had two (minutes) up on the board for like a minute and then they come over and tell (the scorekeeper that it was a five," Brown said of Clifford's penalty. "I think that stuff should happen immediately."
Vrbata carried the puck all the way around the Kings net before roofing a shot over Quick and popping the water bottle for his 30th of the season to tie the game 4-4 and force overtime.
"If you give up three power-play goals on the road, you're going to have a tough time winning," said Los Angeles coach Darryl Sutter, who called out top players like Brown and Anze Kopitar after a pair of 1-0 losses at home.
The Kings came into the game with an NHL-worst 124 goals scored. But Brown assisted on Drew Doughty's tally at 6:18 into the contest and capped the three-goal, first-period burst by deflecting a Willie Mitchell mishit from the point by Smith for just his second goal in the last 15 games. In between, Smith failed to seal off the near post and, while screened by L.A.'s Trevor Lewis, didn't see Andrei Loktionov bad-angle shot slip by.
Down three goals with an injury-depleted lineup featuring three players with 15 games or less of NHL experience, the Coyotes came to life quickly in the second period, and their oft-maligned power play did much of the damage.
Johnson took a holding penalty just 28 seconds into play and the Coyotes needed even less time to cash in. Hanzal whipped a hot a pass across the crease to a wide-open Vrbata, who had half a net to just 22 seconds into the man advantage.
The Coyotes capitalized even faster when Matt Greene tripped Brule on the rush five minutes later. Hanzal was in the middle of it again, feathering a backhand pass to the top of the crease where Doan beat Quick to the short side 11 seconds into the power play to slice the deficit to 3-2.
"There wasn't anything different. We were fully prepared for (the Phoenix power play)," Doughty said. "They just made some good plays."
The Kings' power play answered at 11:51, when Kopitar found Justin Williams at point-blank range for his 12th goal -- restoring the L.A. lead to two at 4-2. But Hanzal wasn't done, picking up a first assist for the third time in the period when his rebound was cleaned up by Doan at 17:07.
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