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Coyotes better in Game 3, but not good enough

by Corey Masisak

LOS ANGELES -- The Phoenix Coyotes played much better in Game 3 than they did in Game 2 of this Western Conference Finals series. They've got two days to figure out a way to play even better in Game 4.

While the Coyotes were able to stay with the Los Angeles Kings in Game 3, they weren't able to beat them -- and they're in a 3-0 hole after the 2-1 loss at Staples Center.

"We're disappointed that we didn't get the results we want," Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. "Certainly through the playoffs there's been some real positives to how we played. But this last series, we just haven't been able to get enough guys to the level that we need to get to. We talked about that after the first couple games. The level is being raised here. We just haven't been able to get to the next level."


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The Coyotes had a strong opening period, putting 11 shots on net and controlling the play at times. But they weren't able to beat Los Angeles goaltender Jonathan Quick -- and even during a good period for them, the Kings were able to generate a handful of great scoring opportunities.

Phoenix took a lead for the first time in this series on Daymond Langkow's goal early in the second, but it lasted all of 127 seconds. A strong start to the period was quickly negated by an answer from the Kings. Several players and Tippett said the goal from Anze Kopitar at 3:10 did not deflate them, but the Coyotes had only three shots the rest of the second period and just four in the third.

"We were still playing fine," captain Shane Doan said. "I don't think we played bad for very much of the game. For the most part I thought we played similar to what we wanted. We just didn't find a way to score. We had a couple chances that we didn't bury and that's the difference."

Added defenseman Keith Yandle: "It's tough, but it's part of the game. You've got to be mentally strong and battle through that and just realize you have to go up there and get the next one. Unfortunately we weren't able to. It's something that to win the game you've got to be mentally strong and be able to battle through that and be able to get another goal."

The Kings went on the attack early in the third period, and their third line created the game-winning tally. Jarret Stoll had a fantastic game, which may have in part been because the Coyotes were without suspended center Martin Hanzal.

Tippett alluded to having "lots of worry about with our center ice" position, and trying to matchup against Kopitar, Mike Richards and Stoll without Hanzal was definitely a problem.

After Dwight King's goal put the Kings ahead, L.A. limited Phoenix's chances as the Coyotes tried to find an equalizer. Even in the dying moments of the third, the Kings were the aggressors, pushing the Coyotes back while they tried to get goaltender Mike Smith off the ice for an extra attacker.

Another problem in the third period was penalties. Phoenix couldn't generate any momentum to mount a comeback in part because of four third-period penalties. The Coyotes weren't happy with the officiating, but three of the team's six penalties in the game were retaliation infractions -- something that also sunk the St. Louis Blues in the second round against the Kings.

"Obviously that hurts any team when you're getting calls like that and whatever; getting momentum taken out of the game," Yandle said. "We were doing a good job rolling four lines and when there's penalties you've got to run only four guys and it's something that takes us out of the game a little bit but you can't blame it on them."

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