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The Key Three: Dec. 26

by Rich Hammond / Los Angeles Kings

Three key aspects of the Kings’ 4-3 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes...

1. Three-goal breakthrough
One could almost feel the tension inside Staples Center. The Kings scored four minutes into the first period, then 14 minutes into the first period, and then...uh oh. Despite a couple quality chances, the Kings didn’t score that magical third goal in the first period, and then they got outplayed for long stretches of the second period. Could it possibly happen again? The thought of the two-goal streak must have been running through the players’ minds during the second intermission, but Willie Mitchell (of all people) ended the drama less than two minutes into the third period, and the Kings improved to 9-0-0 when scoring at least three goals.

2. Blue-line offense
It only figures that on the night the Kings finallly had an offensive breakthrough, it would come largely because of the defensemen. Rob Scuderi scored on a point shot. Brad Richardson ticked Slava Voynov’s point shot and deflected it into the net. That got the Kings going early. Then, in the third period, Mitchell took an unexpected burst toward the net and scored from near the outside of the circle. Drew Doughty continued his resurgence with a well-earned assist, and Jack Johnson also contributed an assist. Scoring from the blue line will be huge as the Kings attempt to sustain some offensive momentum.

3. Third-period bounce-back
The Kings did all they could in the first period, when they outshot the Coyotes 15-7 and took a 2-1 lead into the first intermission. But then what happened? The Coyotes found some life to start the second period and scored the period’s only goal, at the 13-minute mark. Credit the Kings, though, for rediscovering their game and pushing the action. They didn’t go timid or look like a beaten team. And credit Dustin Penner for a smart, short pass to Mitchell, who had the presence of mind to skate in and beat Jason LaBarbera with a strong shot. Dustin Brown added a huge insurance goal just over seven minutes into the period.

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