Photo Credit: Getty Images
Phoenix - David LeNeveu
Los Angeles - Dan Cloutier
On Saturday afternoon, the Phoenix Coyotes two-game winning streak was snapped when they dropped a 5-3 decision at the hands of their Pacific Division rival, the Los Angeles Kings.
After Los Angeles took the puck off the opening face-off and dumped the puck into the Coyotes zone, Phoenix brought their offensive rush back into the Kings zone; where netminder Dan Cloutier was forced to make the first save of the game on a drive from Coyotes center Jeremy Roenick.
In addition to taking the first shot of the game, the Coyotes would also get the first power play as the Kings' Dustin Brown was called for tripping Phoenix forward Owen Nolan at 3:03 of the first. Phoenix began the man-advantage tentatively, allowing the Kings to register a shot while shorthanded. Following the shorthanded try by Los Angeles, the Coyotes began to move the puck back up ice, but were unable to bring a sustained pressure in to the Kings zone as the penalty to Brown expired.
Shortly after returning to full strength, the Kings created their own offensive display in the Coyotes zone and nearly took the first lead of the game when a shot from the right face-off circle beat goaltender David LeNeveu on the strong side and deflected off the right goal post before sailing away from the net.
Phoenix would take a turn on the penalty kill at 10:49 of the opening period when Nolan was given a minor penalty for goaltender interference. Less than a minute into the penalty to Nolan, the Kings would capitalize as Alexander Frolov one-timed a shot from the left face-off circle the beat LeNeveu low to the stick side for a 1-0 lead.
Late in the first period, Nolan had a great opportunity to even the score when he chased down a loose puck in the left face-off circle of the Los Angeles zone and blasted a slap shot on goal, but Cloutier was able to keep his body in front of the drive and the puck out of the net.
The final seconds of the period would slip off the clock with the Coyotes heading to the locker room after 20-minutes of play, trailing the kings by the score of 1-0.
In the second period, the Coyotes continued to try and even the score, but on their first extended offensive attack, the Kings were able to put a stop to the pressure by drawing a hooking penalty against Mike Zigomanis at 3:24 of the first.
Los Angeles would continue to feed off the man-advantage as Kings blueliner Lubomir Visnovsky missed the net on a shot from the point; but forward Sean Avery went behind the net to retrieve the puck and send it out front to Rob Blake who stuffed the puck past LeNeveu for a 2-0 Kings lead.
The Coyotes struggled to catch a break as Nolan took a cross-check from behind while deep in the Los Angeles zone, but failed to draw a penalty on the play.
Phoenix would go back on the power play at 6:05 of the second when the Kings were assessed a bench minor for too-many men on the ice. But just 55-seconds into the Los Angeles penalty, Kings forward Alexander Frolox jumped on a loose puck and made his way around Coyotes defenseman Ed Jovanovski, before sending a backhand shot past LeNeveu for his second goal of the game, increasing the Kings lead to 3-0.
Following Frolov's second period goal, Coyotes Head Coach Wayne Gretzky pulled LeNeveu in favor of Curtis Joseph with the hopes of giving his wake-up call.
The Coyotes responded and cut the deficit to 3-1 at 17:55 of the period when Matt Jones' shot form the blueline was tipped at the top of the crease by Georges Laraque, sending the puck past Cloutier and into the net for Phoenix's first goal of the contest.
Less than a minute later, the Coyotes made it a 3-2 game when Ladislav Nagy's perfect pass from the slot found an open Yanic Perreault at the right side of the net. Once the puck reached him, Perreault needed only to tip the puck into the open net for his fifth tally of the season.
A pair of goals coming late in the second period brought the Coyotes back to within one as the second period of the game came to an end.
Early in the third period, the Coyotes got a scare when Jeremy Roenick sustained a knee-on-knee hit as he exited the Phoenix zone. The hit sent Roenick to the ice, and the only thing more amazing than the fact that Roenick escaped injury was that there was no penalty called on the play.
At 2:40 of the third, Coyotes forward Patrick Fischer was called for high-sticking, but the Kings wouldn't have a chance to capitalize on the power play due to the fact that Los Angeles rookie Anze Kopitar was given a penalty, during the first face-off following Fischer's penalty, for a face-off violation.
Following a stint of four-on-four hockey, the Coyotes continued to keep the pressure on the Kings and at 6:30 of the period would even the score on one of the most bizarre goals so far this season. On the play, Laraque circled back in from the point and gently sent the puck in the direction of the net where is hit the blade of Oleg Saprykin's stick in the slot, sending the puck high in the air. The puck made an arch toward the Kings goal and as it came down, Cloutier failed to catch the puck, allowing it to fall into the net, tying the game at 3-3.
After allowing three unanswered goals, the Kings were given a chance to try and regain the lead at 8:05 of the third when Jovanovski was sent to the box for holding. On the ensuing Los Angeles power play, Kings forward Craig Conroy blasted a big slap shot from the right side that beat "Cujo" high to the stick side, giving L.A. a 4-3 advantage.
The Coyotes were hit with their ninth penalty of the contest at 16:09 of the third period when Oleg Saprykin was called for slashing when he dove to the ice and tried to sweep the puck away from Kopitar. Phoenix's penalty killing unit gave the Coyotes what they needed as they kept the Los angles attack confined to the perimeter and allowed Joseph to get a clear view of the shots sent his way. The end result was a successful kill on the Saprykin penalty.
With les than a minute to play, the Coyotes tried to produce a game-tying goal when Gretzky pulled Joseph from the net for the extra attacker. The move led to a good scoring chance for Nagy at the side of the Kings net, but after being denied on a pair of shots, Los Angeles moves the puck up the ice; where Kopitar, who had the open net all to himself, chose instead to pass the puck to his teammate Scott Thornton, who shuffled the puck into the empty net for a 5-3 Los Angeles lead.
Before the game's final face-off, Ladislav Nagy was given 22-minutes in penalties via an unsportsmanlike conduct call, a 10-minute misconduct and a game misconduct.
The final 19-seconds of the game would quickly run off the clock as the Coyotes fell to the Kings by the final score of 5-3.