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Kings take Game 1 with 4-2 win

by Dan Rosen
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Even a week off couldn't cool the red-hot Los Angeles Kings. They're three wins away from the Stanley Cup Final.

The Kings came out strong with a relentless forecheck that continued throughout the game. They fired 48 shots on net and got goals from Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown and two from Dwight King along with 25 saves from goalie Jonathan Quick to beat the Phoenix Coyotes in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, 4-2, at Arena on Sunday night.

Los Angeles is now 9-1 in the playoffs and has won six games in a row on the road. The Kings will go for No. 7 in Game 2 Tuesday (9 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS).

"You know the Coyotes have won both games at home prior series, right?" Kings coach Darryl Sutter asked rhetorically, citing that the Coyotes were victories in Game 1 against Chicago and again against Nashville at Arena. "It was really important we had a good start.  It wasn't so much scoring or any of that stuff.  Just make sure we match their start.

"We were able to overcome a rare bad goal against us, have the resiliency to stay with it."

Sutter is correct, the Kings did have to rebound after Quick was beat on a 98-foot slap shot by Derek Morris 13:26 into the first period. Morris wound up and fired from directly in front of the red line and the puck skimmed off the ice and sailed over Quick's outstretched right pad to tie the game at 1-1.

Los Angeles had a 17-4 advantage in shots on goal after 20 minutes, but the game was locked in a tie.

"It skipped off the ice, took a weird hop, and nothing you can do about it," Quick said. "You just reset and get ready for the next shot, that's all it is."

Quick's teammates knew it was a tough one for their goalie to give up, but it only made them want to play that much harder for him.

"I think we just felt we have to get a couple for Quickie," Kopitar said. "He was bailing us out all season and a few times in the playoffs, too. I don't think anybody was concerned or worried about it; we just kind of looked at each other and said maybe we should win this one for him."

They did, thanks to their captain. Brown gave the Kings their 3-2 lead with 17:49 left in the third period.

Brown, who now has seven goals in 10 playoff games, was sprung on a semi-breakaway by defenseman Slava Voynov. He made a fantastic pass from out of the defensive zone to catch Brown in the neutral zone. He skated into the right circle and put a wrist shot past Mike Smith on the blocker side.

"That was a great pass by Slava," Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said. "I think everyone knows he has that vision offensively to do those kinds of things. Right away he saw Brownie before he even got the puck, and from there he made a great pass and Brownie finished it off from there."

Sutter said Brown has become a playoff hockey player in this postseason. He also had an assist on Kopitar's goal 3:53 into the first period and now has 13 points in the playoffs.

"He'd like to have the penalty back in the first period," Sutter said, referring to Brown's interference minor behind the play with 18.3 seconds left in the first period. "He certainly covered his butt good by scoring the game-winner."

The Kings dominated most of the night with a constant, aggressive forecheck that had the Coyotes hemmed in their own zone. They also continued to play with perfection on the penalty kill, which was 5-for-5 and allowed only four shots on goal. Los Angeles has killed off 24 straight power plays dating back to Game 5 against Vancouver.

"We weren't close in that game," Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. "We got beat in every facet of the game.

"I felt our execution was so poor. The execution and will to get things done is going to have to improve greatly if we're going to have a chance in this series."

About the only player Tippett couldn't be angry with was Smith, who never let the Kings take a two-goal lead before Kings' empty-net goal with 48 seconds left. He made 44 saves.

The Kings beat Smith on a backhanded shot by Kopitar from the high slot in the first period, a King shot off a rebound created on a 2-on-1 rush with Mike Richards in the second, and on Brown's wrist shot from the right circle off a semi-breakaway in the third.

"He's not going to save every one, eventually a few will get by him and that's what happened tonight," Doughty said. "It just shows you the more shots you get on net the more he's going to let in."

Phoenix has been outshot in 10 of its 12 playoff games and has given up 45 or more shots three times. It is 1-2 in those games.

"As the playoffs go on, the bar gets higher and higher," Tippett said. "You have some players that can rise with the bar and we didn't have enough guys rise with the bar tonight."

However, despite getting outshot 34-18 through two periods, the Coyotes still managed to head into the dressing room tied 2-2 after 40 minutes. Morris' blast from the red line beat Quick in the first period and Mikkel Boedker cashed in on his fourth goal of the playoffs with 1:55 left in the second period as the Coyotes came back from a pair of one-goal deficits in each period.

"We started to generate some stuff in the second period a little better," Coyotes center Antoine Vermette said.

Los Angeles, though, was relentless again in the third and got some big saves from Quick late to preserve the one-goal lead before King's empty-netter.

"Right before the game Darryl made sure to tell us the first five minutes are so important, we need to be the fastest team, the hardest working team, we want them not to want to play us," Doughty said. "I thought we did a good job of that."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter: @drosennhl
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