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The Key Three: Feb. 16

by Rich Hammond / Los Angeles Kings
Three key aspects of the Kings’ 1-0 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes...

The boards and glass behind the Coyotes’ hit were hit almost as many times as goalie Mike Smith. The Kings recorded 28 shots on goal and had 25 miss the net. (They also had 10 attempts blocked.) That’s an astounding number. The phrase ``gripping the sticks too tight’’ gets tossed around, and there’s no better example than Justin Williams, wide open in front of Smith in the first period, and missing the net. To his credit, Williams at least got three shots on goal. What happened to Anze Kopitar (zero shots), Dustin Brown (one), and Mike Richards (one)? Rookies Dwight King and Jordan Nolan were mostly non-factors.

The game threatened to spiral out of control in the first period, when there were three fights and the teams combined for a total of 40 penalty minutes. Which team would be able to play with more poise in the second period? According to the stat sheet, the Coyotes. After the game, Darryl Sutter expressed some dissatisfaction that the Kings didn’t get a power play in the second period. The Coyotes got three, including Jack Johnson’s unforced error and Mike Richards’ penalty for yapping at officials. The Coyotes, with the 30th-ranked power play in the league, got a power-play goal, and rode the first goal of the game to a victory.

The Kings arguably outplayed the Coyotes in the second period but ended up on the wrong side of the scoreboard. Could they generate some fire and momentum to start the third period? No. Kevin Westgarth tried to get it going by fighting Paul Bissonnette three minutes in, but the fight generated no buzz and little emotion. Less than 30 seconds later, rookie winger Jordan Nolan was in the penalty box for an offensive-zone slashing penalty. The Kings had only four shots on goal in the first 16 minutes of the third period. They put on a late push, and nearly tied the game, but once again it was too little, too late.
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