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COYOTES CONCLUDE SEASON SERIES WITH KINGS

by Staff Writer / Arizona Coyotes
By: Chad Lynch

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

STARTING GOALTENDERS
Phoenix - Curtis Joseph
Los Angeles - Mathieu Garon

On Saturday afternoon, the Phoenix Coyotes dropped the final meeting of the season with the Los Angeles Kings by the score of 3-2.

Early in the opening period of play, the Kings would get the first power play of the game as center Mike Zigomanis was called for hooking at 3:31. Los Angeles would struggle to find any sort of offensive rhythm during the first minute of their man-advantage, but in the second minute, they were able to send a series of shots to the net, only to be turned aside by goaltender Curtis Joseph.

The Coyotes would trade places and receive their first power play of the afternoon at 8:21 of the first, when Kings' defenseman Aaron Miller was called for tripping. Phoenix would be unable to convert the extra attacker into the first goal of the game as the Kings' defense cut off the shooting lanes and forced the Coyotes into running down the penalty by moving the puck around the perimeter of the offensive zone.

With just under five minutes to play in the first, Los Angeles rookie defenseman Jack Johnson delivered a big hit on Coyotes captain Shane Doan, behind the Kings zone. Since Doan no longer had the puck when he absorbed the hit, the Coyotes took exception to the physical play and Phoenix rookie Daniel Carcillo took matters into his own hands. With 4:34 to play in the first, Carcillo and Johnson exchanged a series of punches, with Carcillo easily gaining the upper hand in the bout with a trio of big right hands, just before the on-ice officials were able to step in and separate the two.

At 17:39 of the period, the Coyotes took the first lead of the afternoon when Mike Zigomanis carried the puck into the Los Angeles zone and snapped an innocent looking wrist shot from the top of the right face-off circle; that seemed to fool netminder Mathieu Garon and trickle through his legs for a 1-0 Phoenix lead. Coyotes' defensemen Nick Boynton and Keith Ballard recorded assists on Zigomanis' 14th goal of the season.

The final minute of the first would run off the clock without further scoring from either side and the Coyotes headed into the locker room after 20-minutes of play, holding a one goal lead.

Phoenix would have an opportunity to extend their lead early in the second period as Los Angeles' Johnson made his second trip to the penalty box, this time for cross-checking, resulting in the Coyotes second power play of the game. In the final seconds of the penalty to Johnson, Steven Reinprecht nearly put Phoenix up by two when he skated the puck out of the corner of the offensive zone and crashed the Kings' net, only to have Garon somehow keep the puck from getting behind him and into the net.

With 5:41 gone in the second, the Coyotes power play unit received another opportunity when Kings' defenseman Jamie Heward committed a vicious slash at the top of the crease on the stick of Zigomanis, breaking the Coyotes' stick and putting the Kings back on the penalty kill. This time, Phoenix would make the most out of the man-advantage as blueliner Nick Boynton, blasted a slap shot form the point at 7:10 of the period, that beat Garon and put the Coyotes on top, 2-0.

At 11:34 of the period, it appeared the Coyotes were destined to add to their lead when Kings' rookie Anze Kopitar was escorted to the penalty box on a hooking call. However, it was Los Angeles that would end up making a dent on the scoreboard as veteran Scott Thornton raced into the Phoenix zone and released a tricky backhand shot that beat Joseph, rang off the far right goal post and deflected into the net to make it a 2-1 game.

Less than three minutes later, the Kings would tie the game at 14:12 of the second when Jaroslav Modry made a long pass across the zone to Michael Cammalleri, who snapped a one-timer off the post and into the net for his 34th goal of the year and evening the score at 2-2.

During the final five-minutes of the second, the Coyotes took a pair of penalties with Fredrik Sjostrom (holding) and Steven Reinprecht (slashing) paying a visit to the box. But the Phoenix penalty killers were able to protect the net and keep the pressure off of Joseph as the Coyotes returned to full strength and left the ice after 40-minutes of action, tied with Los Angeles at 2-2.

Through the first six minutes of the third period, the Coyotes and Kings traded offensive rushes, but neither club was able to establish a serious attack, as a result their were few quality scoring chances, keeping the game tied at 2-2.

At 8:04 of the period, Coyotes defenseman Zbynek Michalek was forced into taking a hooking call to prevent former Coyote Jamie Lundmark from getting a clean breakaway. Fortunately, the Phoenix penalty-killing unit was dominant during the ensuing kill, allowing the Coyotes to return to full strength without surrendering a go-ahead goal.

With just under nine minute remaining in the third, the Coyotes received a serious scare when Los Angeles' Ivanans charged into Keith Ballard, who was in a vulnerable position behind the net, sending Ballard to the ice writhing in pain. Ballard, who suffered a hip injury, was helped off the ice and into the Coyotes dressing room, where he would remain for the remainder of the game.

In show of support for his teammate, Phoenix forward Josh Gratton dropped the gloves with Ivanans minutes later. The two traded punches before being separated by the on-ice officials.

With 2:04 left in regulation, the Coyotes found themselves shorthanded when center Jeremy Roenick was assessed a minor penalty for slashing. Then with 1:16 to play, Phoenix defenseman Derek Morris was called for tripping, resulting in a five-on-three power play for 1:12. Unfortunately, it would only take the Kings 19-seconds to convert on the two-man advantage as Alexander Frolov made a pass through the crease to Anze Kopitar at the left side of the net, where it was quickly knocked into the net for his 20th goal of the season and a 3-2 lead.

The final 45-seconds of play saw both clubs engaged in minor altercations, but no one-on-one battles as the action came to a close and the Coyotes fell to the Kings by the score of 3-2.

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