By: Chad Lynch
Photos by Getty Images/Robert Laberge
On Saturday night, the Phoenix Coyotes fell to the Kings 4-1 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
The Coyotes registered the first good scoring opportunity of the contest at the 1:20 mark of the opening period when Ladislav Nagy entered the Kings zone on a two-on-one with defenseman Paul Mara. Nagy picked his spot and tried to fire the puck past Los Angeles netminder Mathieu Garon, but a good save kept Phoenix from capturing the early lead.
Mara took the first penalty of the game when he was called for hooking with 17:01 to play in the first period. But the Kings would never be able to get anywhere near Coyotes goaltender Brian Boucher as the Phoenix penalty killing unit took care of the minor infraction and returned to full strength.
With just over 13 minutes to play in the first, the Coyotes were given their first power play of the contest as Petr Nedved fired a blast form the left-hand side, which missed the net but allowed the puck to come to Dave Scatchard on the right side, who was summarily pulled down by Los Angeles' Tom Kostopoulus as he tried to shoot the puck into an open Kings net.
Unfortunately, the Coyotes wouldn't get to use the full two-minutes on the man-advantage as Nedved was called for tripping inside the right face-off circle of the Kings zone at 7:50 of the period.
Brian Boucher showed he had no rust on him after missing the first three months of the season as he made a brilliant stacked-pad save with 11:44 to play in the opening period to keep the Kings off the scoreboard.
With 9:40 left in the first, Los Angeles crashed the net and smothered Boucher with pressure and even raised their arms thinking the puck had crossed into the net, but were ultimately unable to stuff the puck past the Coyotes netminder.
It looked like the game might remain scoreless after one period of play, but Kings forward Craig Conroy fired a quick, turnaround shot from the left face-off circle with 48 seconds left in the opening frame, which was tripped en-route to the net by Pavol Demitra before it deflected off the inside of Boucher's right skate and into the net to give Los Angeles a 1-0 lead.
The Coyotes then took a penalty with 10 seconds left in the period when Sean O'Donnell was called for hooking, giving the Kings 1:50 of power play time to start the second period as the first period came to an end with Los Angeles holding a 1-0 lead.
The Coyotes began the second period killing off the majority of hooking penalty to defenseman Sean O'Donnell, taken near the conclusion of the opening period. Unfortunately for Los Angeles, Phoenix demonstrated the same tenacity on this penalty kill that they had in the opening period as they kept the Kings from generating an offensive attack and killed off the minor infraction.
Mike Comrie was sent to the box on an absurd call at 3:30 of the second period when he delivered a clear and clean hip-check in the neutral zone on the Kings' Tim Gleason. But the on-ice official assessed Comrie with a kneeing penalty, putting the Coyotes back on the penalty-kill. The offensive drought for Los Angeles continued, as Comrie was able to return to the ice with the Kings still clinging to a one-goal lead.
Los Angeles finally made a trip their own trip to the box when Mattias Nordstrom was called for hooking at 8:24 of the second. Phoenix knew they weren't getting an abundance of power plays on the evening, so they didn't let the opportunity pass them by. At 9:01 of the second, Paul Mara came streaking into the slot and fired a one-timer over the glove of Garon to tie the contest at 1-1. The goal was Mara's sixth of the season and was assisted by Nagy and Comrie.
The game wouldn't stay tied for long as the Kings re-took the lead at 9:58 of period when Joe Corvo's shot from the point, beat Boucher on the strong side, giving the Kings a 2-1 lead.
Phoenix had chance to tie the game for a second time when the Kings' Derek Armstrong was sent to the box for hooking. But the Coyotes wouldn't be able take full advantage of the power play as Mike Johnson was called for interference at 12:05 of the second. Making matters worse, Petr Nedved was assessed a tripping penalty just seven seconds later. However, the Coyotes rose to the occasion, killing off the pair of penalties and keeping the Kings from increasing their lead.
Brian Boucher made the save of the night with 5:31 left in the period when he made a sliding save on the Kings' Alexander Frolov, who came into the Phoenix zone all alone.
The Kings went back on the penalty kill with five-minutes to play in the stanza when Mike Weaver was given a delay-of-game penalty for sending a clearing attempt over the glass and into the stands. The Coyotes wouldn't be able to convert on the penalty to Weaver, but shortly after the expiration of the penalty, Phoenix defenseman Keith Ballard was struck with a high- stick by Los Angeles' Dustin Brown, giving the Coyotes a late power play. Phoenix nearly tied the game with less than a minute to play when Shane Doan's blast from the slot, beat Garon, but deflected off the goal post and into the corner keeping the Kings one-goal lead intact after 40 minutes of play.
The Kings were given a power play 40 seconds into the third period when Fredrik Sjostrom was called for interference, deep in the offensive zone. For the majority of the power play, the Kings were unable to generate much offense, but in the final seconds of the man-advantage, Derek Armstrong let a shot go that hit the goal post before Mike Ricci carried it out of the zone.
Ladislav Nagy drew a penalty on Los Angeles' Pavol Demitra with 16:43 left in the third when the Kings forward was called for tripping the Coyotes sniper in the L.A. zone. Phoenix did a good job of getting pucks to the net, but Garon was steady in net, turning aside the shots and holding on for whistles to keep the Coyotes from gaining momentum.
Los Angeles extended their lead to 3-1 with 10:55 to play in the third period when he fired a slap shot from the point that made it's way through traffic in front of the Coyotes net before being tipped by the stick of Mike Cammalleri and past Boucher.
After having killed off all seven penalties taken earlier in the contest, the Coyotes tried to make it a perfect eight when Derek Morris was called for cross-checking at 10:42. This time the Kings would find a way past Phoenix defense when a rebound at the right side of the net was jumped on by Craig Conroy and slammed into the Coyotes net to make it a 4-1 game.
At 16:54 of the third period, Geoff Sanderson took his first penalty of the game when he was called for hooking. Just seconds into the Kings power play, Craig Conroy had a great chance to register his second goal of the period as he was camped out at the right side of the net and tried to one-time a shot past Boucher, but was unable to get the puck over the right leg pad of the Coyotes goaltender.
Zbynek Michalek was called for holding at 18:18, giving the Kings a brief two-man advantage. The Coyotes wouldn't allow Los Angeles to score another goal, but they were unable to chip away at the deficit before the period expired as the Kings skate off with a 4-1 win.
Brian Boucher made 33 saves in his first regular season start of the year.
The Coyotes will return to Glendale Arena to host the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday, December 20, 2005 at 7:00 p.m. The Game can be seen on FSN Arizona High-Definition, FSN Arizona or heard on KDUS-1060 AM, KDKB-93.3 FM and on phoenixcoyotes.com by clicking on the "Listen Live" link in the Game Day section.