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Coyotes stay alive with 2-0 win

by Corey Masisak
LOS ANGELES -- When discussing the Coyotes' offensive woes after practice Saturday, Phoenix captain Shane Doan included himself among the players who needed to be better.

He went and did just that Sunday afternoon at Staples Center, and a few of his friends did the same. The result was the Coyotes avoided elimination from the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Doan had a pair of goals and Mike Smith made 36 saves as Phoenix secured a 2-0 victory against the Los Angeles Kings, denying them of their first conference championship in 19 years for at least another two days.

"I think I might have been caught up a little bit in trying to be overly physical in the other games, had opportunities to play with the puck, make plays, take the puck to the net in the last couple games and didn't do it as well," Doan said. "It was brought to my attention by some people that's going to help you out with that. I think that was a big part of our game tonight. There were a few more times where we had pucks where we could try to get to the net. They're a good team. They're playing their game well. We got to, for the most part, play our game better."

Los Angeles now lead the best-of-seven series three games to one, with Game 5 set for Tuesday night in Glendale, Ariz., at Arena. The Kings had lots of shots, but not lots of quality scoring opportunities beyond the first period.

The loss snapped an eight-game winning streak for the Kings, who had won 11 of 12 to start this postseason.

"I think tonight was more about the Phoenix Coyotes playing a good game," Kings captain Dustin Brown said. "They sat back and they are opportunistic and that's how they've done it all year. They've been a resilient group all year and they showed that tonight. They executed really well and that's the bottom line."

Doan had the lone goal of a penalty-filled first period. Both teams had a pair of power plays among the six penalties called, and Doan helped the Coyotes convert the last one.

With Justin Williams in the box for goalie interference -- he stayed in Smith's path back to the crease after he wandered into the corner to play the puck -- Doan took a pass from Ray Whitney and backhanded a shot past Jonathan Quick at 14:19 of the first.

It was Doan's first goal in five games and fourth of the postseason. Whitney, who led the team with 72 points in the regular season, collected his first point in seven contests.

"That was Coyote hockey," Whitney said. "A lot of effort, a lot of blocked shots, a lot of extra efforts and some timely goals by Shane Doan and [Smith] in net. That's kind of the equation for us."

The goal was Phoenix's first on the power play since Game 1 of the second round against the Nashville Predators. It is also snapped a streak of 30 successive penalty kills by the Kings, dating back to the opening round.

Los Angeles has used its strong PK work to swing momentum in games, but it was Phoenix that flustered the Kings' power-play unit Sunday. The Kings went 0-for-6 with the man advantage and put only six shots on net, while the Coyotes blocked six attempts while shorthanded -- Boyd Gordon, Antoine Vermette and Michal Rozsival turned aside two each.

"We had our opportunities on the power play and we didn't cash in," Kings center Anze Kopitar said. "We lost the special teams battle tonight and we have to make sure that we correct that on Tuesday."

Added Los Angeles coach Darryl Sutter: "We had looks up top. We took too much time. ... Quite honestly, that's poor shooting on our part from up top from guys that are supposed to take that shot."

Doan added his second of the game at 11:10 of the second period. Vermette won a faceoff in the right circle of the offensive zone back to Doan, and his shot went off the stick of Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi and past Quick. It bounced off the camera in the net and back out quickly, so play went on but the goal was confirmed after an official review.

Vermette, who was acquired from Columbus just before the trade deadline in February, now leads the Coyotes with 10 points in this postseason. He and Doan are tied for the team lead with five goals. They were reunited with Mikkel Boedker on a line for this contest, and the trio consistently pressured the Kings.

"Vermette has been unbelievable," Doan said. "They both are so fast. I think that's one of the things. I think everybody to a man on our team has been encouraging Boedker to take that next step. He could become a superstar.  Playing in Phoenix, you might not hear about him that much. But he has the ability to be that good. We're encouraging him to hold onto the puck. Him and Vermette, I've been trying to create some space and I've been reaping the benefits of their play."

The Kings spent the majority of the third period at the Coyotes' end of the ice, but strong work in front of Smith muted much of that pressure. Los Angeles finished the game with 76 shot attempts, including 31 in the third period alone, but few of them came from prime scoring areas.

Now the Coyotes will return to the desert and a building full of their white-clad fans with the hope that a trip back to Southern California will be the result.

"We didn't panic. I think that was a big part of why we played so well. We made plays tonight," Smith said. "We did the little things it takes to beat a team like that. We have to worry about the next game. If we want to win that one, we have to play as good as we did tonight or maybe a little bit better."

The Kings have been perfect away from Staples Center in this postseason, and will try to make eight-for-eight on the road in the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs. It is up to the Coyotes to put an end to that streak.

"Two ways to look at it: they're either due to lose or we got to find a way to stop them," Doan said. "Law of averages says you're going to lose eventually on the road. So it happens. Next game would be a bad one [for Los Angeles] to lose."
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