Three key aspects of the Kings’ 4-2 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes...
1. FIRST LINE LEADS THE WAY
Purely in terms of time on ice, the Kings’ first line of Dustin Brown, Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams played only approximately one-third of the game -- 18 to 20 minutes each -- but in terms of impact on the game, they were massive. On some shifts, that line simply dominated. Brown and Kopitar each scored a goal, and the trio combined for 15 of the Kings’ 48 shots on goal. Even when they didn’t score, or even contribute a grade-A scoring chance, Brown, Kopitar and Williams cycled well and helped generate some momentum for the Kings’ other lines. Of course, they also scored. Kopitar scored a big early goal and Brown got the game-winner.
2. A QUICK BOUNCE-BACK
Everyone, even diehard Phoenix Coyotes fans, realized that Derek Morris’ red-line goal was a fluke, a bad goal that probably wouldn’t happen again in 100 identical chances. That’s not the point, though. The question was how it might impact Quick. Would he start to feel as though he needed to make up for the goal, and start overplaying the puck and leaving himself open for further mistakes? He didn’t. After the Coyotes scored again in the second period, after a puck-playing miscue, Quick shut things down. Quick looked very much like his normal self in the third period, when he made nine saves, including a couple on great scoring chances.
3. PRESSURE, POSSESSION AND SHOTS
Phoenix coach Dave Tippett noted after last night’s game that, of the Kings’ 48 shots on goal, many came immediately after the Coyotes had just lost the puck. Give credit to the Kings’ forechecking for that. Trevor Lewis continues to be an underrated player, in terms of his tenacious puck pursuit, and the Kings in general did a good job of pressuring the Coyotes. As Dustin Brown noted after the game, even if the Kings don’t immediately generate scoring chances from that pressure, it forces the Coyotes to play in their own zone more often, and over time that will wear on a team. The Kings also put good pressure on Mike Smith.