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Kings miss opportunity for two big points

by John Kreiser /
Scoring goals, not preventing them, has been the Los Angeles' Kings problem this season -- so when the Kings led 3-0 after one period of their game at Phoenix on Tuesday night with All-Star goaltender Jonathan Quick in goal, the game was in the bag, right?

No so fast.

The Coyotes, not one of the NHL's higher-scoring teams, started finding the range in the second period, climbing within 4-3 at the second intermission. Radim Vrbata's power-play goal with 2:27 left in regulation forced overtime, and the Coyotes scored twice in the shootout for a stunning 5-4 victory.

Phoenix is now 8-0-1 this month and, with 69 points, has the same total as Pacific Division-leading San Jose, which has played two fewer games.

In the Eastern Conference, the three teams chasing the New York Rangers for first place in the Atlantic Division -- New Jersey, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh -- all won; the Penguins' 2-0 win came at the expense of the Rangers, who've now dropped two of their last three.

Here's a look at how the races in each conference shape up after Tuesday's games:

Eastern Conference

Division leaders

New York Rangers (81 points after Tuesday's 2-0 loss at Pittsburgh) couldn't find a way to score in Pittsburgh and lost for the first time in five trips to the Consol Energy Center. Henrik Lundqvist made 29 stops but lost for only the second time in his last 10 games.

Boston (72 points) did not play Tuesday. The Bruins continue their six-game road trip -- they are 1-2-0 thus far -- on Wednesday night at St. Louis.

Florida (65 points) remains in sole possession of first place in the Southeast thanks to Winnipeg's overtime loss to the Flyers. The Panthers don't play again until Thursday, when they'll host Minnesota.

The next five:

New Jersey (74 points after Tuesday's 4-3 overtime win against Toronto) just keeps finding ways to win. The Devils couldn't hold an early 2-0 lead and saw their 3-2 advantage disappear in the final minute of regulation. But low-scoring defenseman Mark Fayne scored in overtime to give the surging Devils the win.

Philadelphia (73 points after Tuesday's 5-4 overtime win at Winnipeg on Tuesday) bombarded Winnipeg with 55 shots, the most by any team in one game this season. But the Flyers needed a goal by Wayne Simmonds with 10.8 seconds left in regulation to force overtime, then earned the victory when Jaromir Jagr scored his NHL-record 16th overtime winner to get Philadelphia off to a good start on its four-game trip.

Pittsburgh (73 points after Tuesday's 2-0 victory against the New York Rangers) got goals by Evgeni Malkin and Steve Sullivan as well as a 27-save performance by Marc-Andre Fleury to beat the Rangers in a rebound game after Sunday's 6-2 loss at Buffalo. The shutout was Fleury's 22nd, tying him with Tom Barrasso for the franchise record.

Ottawa (70 points) had the day off. The Senators host Washington on Wednesday.

Toronto (65 points after Tuesday's 4-3 overtime loss to New Jersey) remained in eighth place thanks to Phil Kessel's goal with 44 seconds left in regulation. But they saw the extra point go sailing away when Jonas Gustavsson allowed a stoppable shot to beat him 1:18 into the extra period.

On the outside looking in:

Winnipeg (65 points after Tuesday's 5-4 overtime loss to Philadelphia) was 10.8 seconds away from bumping Florida out of the top spot in the Southeast Division before Philadelphia scored on its 49th shot to force overtime. The Jets couldn't hold off the Flyers in OT and had to settle for one point, keeping them on the outside looking in.

Washington (63 points) finishes a road trip with a visit to Ottawa on Wednesday.

Tampa Bay (60 points after Tuesday's 3-2 win against Anaheim) keeps trading players in the afternoon before winning at night. The Bolts dealt forward Steve Downie to Colorado in a deal that brought back Detroit's first-round pick, then got two goals and an assist by Steven Stamkos to hold off the Ducks. Tampa Bay has won three in a row -- each time after trading a veteran earlier in the day.

Buffalo Sabres (59 points after Tuesday's 2-1 win against the New York Islanders) got goals by Tyler Myers and Thomas Vanek, then held on in the third period. Ryan Miller saved the day with just over four minutes remaining when he robbed New York's Matt Moulson from point-blank range on what would have been the tying goal.

New York Islanders (58 points after Tuesday's 2-1 loss at Buffalo) gave up early goals in the first and second periods, then managed only a late goal by Frans Nielsen as they lost for the third time in four games. Assistant coach Doug Weight filled in for Jack Capuano, who was bitten by the same flu bug that has hit several players, including starting goalie Evgeni Nabokov.

Montreal (58 points after Tuesday's 3-0 loss to Dallas) generated little offense in its last home game before the trade deadline. The Canadiens missed first-line center Tomas Plekanec, who missed the game with a virus.

Western Conference

Division leaders:

Detroit (84 points after Tuesday's 2-1 loss at Chicago) got starting goaltender Jimmy Howard back after an eight-game absence due to a broken finger, but couldn't hold off the suddenly-hot Hawks. Valtteri Filppula scored 2:22 into the game and Howard was sharp in making 28 saves, but it wasn't enough. Earlier in the day, the Wings brought in some blue line help by landing defenseman Kyle Quincey from Colorado in a three-way deal.

Vancouver (82 points after a 3-1 loss at Nashville on Tuesday) missed a chance to move past the Wings into first place in the West when they couldn't get more than one shot past Pekka Rinne in Nashville. They'll have another chance to pass the Wings when they visit Detroit on Thursday.

San Jose (69 points after Tuesday's 6-3 loss at Columbus) will be glad to get home next week. The Sharks trailed 4-0 after one period in Columbus and fell to 1-4-1 on their nine-game road trip after losing to the NHL's worst team. The Sharks have Wednesday off before visiting Toronto on Thursday night.

The next five:

St. Louis (79 points) had Tuesday off before Boston comes to Scottrade Center on Wednesday night. After that game, the Blues begin a six-game trip and have just seven of their last 22 at home.

Nashville (76 points after Tuesday's 3-1 win against Vancouver) got a goal and two assists by Mike Fisher to beat the Canucks in a rematch of their second-round series last spring. Pekka Rinne made 32 saves for his League-leading 33rd win, and newcomer Hal Gill not only helped Nashville's penalty-killers go 2-for-2, he also set up a shorthanded goal.

Chicago (73 points after Tuesday's 2-1 win against Detroit) survived a slow start and the absence of injured captain Jonathan Toews to beat the Wings -- giving the Hawks four wins in a row. Jimmy Hayes scored once and assisted on Marcus Kruger's winner to back a 31-save performance by Corey Crawford.

Phoenix (69 points after Tuesday's 5-4 shootout win against Los Angeles) overcame a three-goal deficit to win a game for the first time since last March 5. Radim Vrbata reached the 30-goal mark when he got the tying goal late in the third period, and Mikkel Boedker raced in and scored the shootout winner, giving the Coyotes 17 points in their last nine games.

Los Angeles (66 points after Tuesday's 5-4 shootout loss at Phoenix) got a point to move back into the top eight in the West, but left Arena more concerned about the point that got away after the Kings couldn't hold a 3-0 lead. The NHL's lowest-scoring team led 3-0 after one period and 4-2 in the second, but wound up with its third loss in a row.

On the outside looking in:

Calgary (65 points after Tuesday's 6-1 loss to Edmonton) saw its winning streak in the Battle of Alberta come to an abrupt end. The Flames had won nine in a row against the Oilers, but Edmonton scored four times in less than 11 minutes in the second period to blow open a 1-1 game and drop the Flames out of the top eight.

Dallas (64 points after Tuesday's 3-0 win at Montreal) got 31 saves by Kari Lehtonen and a goal by Montreal native Mike Ribeiro -- playing as a visitor in his home town for the first time -- on the way to an easy win at the Bell Centre. The Stars continue their brief road trip with a visit to Chicago on Thursday.

Colorado (62 points) is off until Wednesday night, when it will host Los Angeles at the Pepsi Center.

Minnesota (61 points) is idle until Thursday's visit to Florida.

Anaheim (60 points after Tuesday's 3-2 loss at Tampa Bay) dug itself an early 2-0 hole and never caught up despite outshooting the Lightning 30-16, including 11-3 in the third period. The Ducks fell to 4-1-2 on their eight-game trip, which ends Thursday at Carolina.
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