By: Jeff Dahlia
Photo Credit: Getty Images
On Tuesday evening, the Coyotes rookies would fall to the Kings 4-3, but would win the tiebreaker overtime period thereby winning the 4th Annual Pacific Division Shootout.
For the second straight night, the Kings got on the board first, when Anze Kopitar struck for a power play goal at 16:20 in the opening period. Los Angeles was working the puck around the Coyotes zone on the man-advantage when Kings forward Konstantin Pushkarev made a tape-to-tape pass to Kopitar who was setup in the right circle. Kopitar's one-timer would go onto beat Phoenix goalie Josh Tordjman and put Los Angeles up 1-0.
Los Angeles would extend their lead in the second period when Ned Lukacevic scored a short-handed goal at 3:05. The Coyotes were in the middle of their own breakout when Lukacevic picked up an errant pass at center-ice. He would race down the left wing and setup a one-on-one situation. Lukacevic made a move to throw off Tordjman as he backhanded the puck through the five-hole for a 2-0 Kings lead.
The Kings opened up the third period and immediately went back to work, when Matt Moulson scored the team's second power play goal of the night at 1:06.The Coyotes were attempting to kill off a minor penalty, when Los Angeles sent a swarm of forwards, including Moulson to net. As Tordjman knocked aside several shots, Moulson was finally able to get one through and give the Kings a commanding 3-0 lead.
Despite the three-goal deficit, the Coyotes recognized the solid play of goalie Josh Tordjman and credited him with keeping Phoenix within striking distance.
"We didn't have a lot of jump to start it out and L.A. got it going from the drop of the puck," said Coyotes Head Coach Pat Conacher. "Tordjman really kept us in the game all night. We got down, but we continued to battle. It could have been a lot worse, but Tordjman wouldn't quit."
Oliver Latendresse helped get things going for Phoenix when he scored a power play goal at 3:15 of the third. Phoenix would enter the Kings zone with the extra attacker charging for the net when the puck deflected off a Los Angeles defender. Defenseman Keith Yandle would pick up the loose puck on the right wing. He then faked a shot and caught Kings netminder Jonathan Bernier leaning to his right as he found Latendresse on the backdoor. Latendresse didn't waste anytime, as he slammed the puck in to make it 3-1.
"It was a nice pass by Yandle," Latendresse said. " I just used my instinct to put the puck in the net."
Phoenix continued their charge when Liam Lindstrom scored his first goal of the tournament at 12:57 of the final frame. Coyotes forward Bill Thomas would pick up a loose puck in the neutral zone and work it up to Peter Mueller, who entered the Kings zone with Liam Lindstrom to on his right. Mueller shoveled a backhand pass to Lindstrom and he found the back of the net, bringing Phoenix to within a goal at 3-2.
"It was a good pass from Pete (Mueller)," said Lindstrom. "Once he got it over to me, I changed its direction and it went it."
Kings forward Matt Moulson would help his squad pull away with his second goal at 18:26. Los Angeles was pressuring down low when Moulson would knock home a loose puck in a clutter of players to put the Kings up by two, making it a 4-2 contest.
As the third period came to a close, the Coyotes still showed signs of life when Ryan Garlock pulled Phoenix back to within one goal at 19:22. After the Kings failed to clear the puck out the slot, Martin Latal found the puck as his feet. Latal would slide the puck to his right and over to Garlock, who beat Bernier low on his left side to maker it 4-3.
Time would run out on the Coyotes as regulation ended with the score 4-3 bringing the Phoenix tournament record to 3-1. However, the Kings win would leave both teams tied in the final standings thereby triggering the pre-negotiated extra ten-minute "playoff" frame to decide this year's champion.
With under a minute remaining in the extra stanza, Coyotes Center Peter Mueller struck gold when he scored the game-winner at 9:05. After a Coyotes timeout, the teams lined up for the face-off in the left circle of the Kings zone. Ryan Garlock would win the draw, which sent the puck to Yandle. Yandle then moved the puck over to Mueller who would move in and put a crisp shot on Bernier, creating a rebound. As play continued to shift from left to right, the rebound bounced back to Mueller who was still on Bernier's left side. With the entire left portion of the net open, Mueller sent the puck into the right top corner of the net for the 1-0 win.
"After the timeout, we lined up with a draw play for Pete (Mueller)," Garlock said. "Yandle did a good job of getting the puck to Pete. He had two great cracks at it, and he ended up burying it on the second try."
"Garlock did a good job winning the draw," Mueller added. "I curled around for the one-timer, shot it and the puck went into the goalies pads. It ended up coming back to me. I didn't expect it would be coming, back but once I saw it, my eyes lit up and I took the shot to bury it."
The playoff win gave the Coyotes their second Pacific Division Title in the last four years. Ironically, when the Kings hosted the first-ever Pacific Division Rookie Tournament back in 2003, it was Phoenix who skated away with the championship.
Scoring: 16:20 - LA - Kopitar, 2, PP (Pushkarev, Harrold)
Penalties: 3:21 - PHX - Garlock (2min., cross-checking), 9:05 - LA - Zeiler (2min., hooking), 14:00 - PHX - Mueller (2min., hooking), 15:19 - PHX - Latendresse (2min., hooking), 17:46 - LA - Murphy (2min., hooking)
Scoring: 3:15 - LA - Lukacevic, 1,SH (unassisted)
Penalties: 00:28 - PHX Lisin (2min., hooking), 00:58 - PHX - Schlemko (2min., cross-checking), 2:46 - LA - Roussin (2min., tripping), 8:06 - PHX - Latendresse (2min., holding), 13:48 - PHX - Martens (2min., delay of game), 16:48 - PHX - (2min., holding), 16:58 - LA - Pushkarev (2min., hooking), 18:29 - PHX - Jones (2min., hooking)
Scoring: 1:06 - LA - Moulson, 3, PP (Kopitar, Pushkarev), 3:15 - PHX - Latendresse, 2, PP (Yandle, Hanzal), 12:57 - PHX - Lindstrom, 1 (Mueller, Thomas), 18:26 - LA - Moulson, 4 (Kopitar, Pushkarev), 19:22 - PHX - Garlock, 1 (Latal)
Penalties: 1:47 - PHX - Bench (2min., too many men), 2:06 - LA - Lewis (2min., holding), 8:03 - LA - McGinnis (2min., slashing), 10:20 - PHX - Latendresse (2min., hooking), 15:32 - LA - Meckler (2min., interference)
Scoring: 9:05 - PHX - Mueller, 1 (unassisted)
Penalties: 4:35 - PHX - Hanzal (2min., high-sticking), 9:55 - PHX - Yandle (2min., tripping)
PHX - Tordjman: 36 of 40; LA - Bernier: 14 of 18
Up next for the Coyotes:
The team's veteran camp will begin Thursday, September 14th at Glendale Arena.
The Coyotes first preseason contest is scheduled for September 17th at the MTS Center in Winnipeg, Manitoba against the defending Western Conference Champion Edmonton Oilers.