LOS ANGELES -- The Phoenix Coyotes
' off-ice situation didn't stop them from spoiling opening night for the Los Angeles Kings
returned to the Coyotes and scored twice as the Coyotes jumped to a 2-0 lead and never looked back on the way to a 6-3 victory over the Kings on Saturday night. Matthew Lombardi, Daniel Winnik, Scottie Upshall and Robert Lang also scored for the Coyotes, a franchise that spent the summer in bankruptcy court.
It was a successful debut for new coach Dave Tippett, who got the job when Wayne Gretzky stepped down during training camp -- days before a U,S, Bankruptcy Court judge rejected two offers to buy the team.
“It’s just one game,” Tippett said. “Tonight it’s a good feeling for those players, but the thing about this league is you have to step up for the next one.”
The Kings were their own worst enemy -- four of the Coyotes' goals came off turnovers.
"Clearly that’s out of character for us," Los Angeles coach Terry Murray said. "We turned it over a few times. It’s not like we had breakaways or breakdowns in our system … it’s something we’ve got to work on."
Phoenix struck first just 5:31 into the game with a power-play goal when a wide-open Vrbata, who came back to the Coyotes after signing with Tampa Bay and then playing in Europe last season, took a pass from Ed Jovanovski and fired a shot past Jonathan Quick
“The first goal gave me confidence and we played well overall,” Vrbata said. “I’m just glad I could help. And if we’re going to play like this (every game), we can surprise a lot of people.”
Lombardi made it 2-0 at 17:48, and Winnik's tip of Zbynek Michalek's shot 8:22 into the second period gave the Coyotes a three-goal lead.
The Kings finally gave the sellout crowd something to cheer about when Anze Kopitar
hacked a puck past Ilya Bryzgalov for a power-play goal at 10:37.
But Vrbata's second goal of the game, off a feed from Petr Prucha following a turnover, made it 4-1 at 14:08.
Alexander Frolov's power-play goal in the final minute of the second period again cut the margin to two goals, but third-period goals by Upshall and Lang put the game out of reach.
“I don’t think we were surprised at all,” Upshall said of the offensive output. “It was a big day. I’m glad to chip in. I like our speed, we got offense and defense up and down the lineup.”
added a window-dressing power-play goal with 8:04 remaining.
Bryzgalov finished with 30 saves as the Coyotes improved to 5-1 in their last six season-openers.
"We didn’t pass the puck, the puck was bouncing all over the place," Kopitar said. "Maybe it was a lack of concentration or something. We have to bear down on the (chances) we got."
-- Bruce Bourquin, NHL.com Correspondent