Doan, Smith carry Coyotes, 2-0
The Los Angeles Kings were hoping to be presented the The Campbell Bowl - awarded to the Western Conference Champion - Sunday afternoon. Instead they will be packing their bags as the series moves back to the desert.
Coyote Captain Shane Doan struck twice and Goaltender Mike Smith blanked the Kings en route to a 2-0 victory at the Staples Center. Phoenix avoided getting swept and will return home for game 5 Tuesday night.
A questionable interference call on L.A. forward Justin Williams set up the Coyotes' first goal. Williams parked infront of Smith after the goalie came out and cleared the puck up through the neutral zone. With no immediate pressure resulting from the clear the called seemed debatable.
Less than twenty seconds into the Coyotes' powerplay Doan lifted a backhand past Jonathan Quick's blocker. Phoenix took the lead at the 14:19 mark of the first period and would never look back.
The goal snapped the Kings' impressive streak of 30 consecutive kills in the postseason. Up to this point the penalty-killing unit was 46/49 and the Coyotes an anemic 0/10 on powerplays this series.
Doan finished all scoring on the day with a slapshot off an Antoine Vermette draw with 8:50 left in the second period. Quick was unable to adjust to the puck after deflecting off defensemen Rob Scuderi's stick. The puck immediately bounced out after hitting the camera inside the net. With confusion all over the ice (except from Quick and Scuderi who knew it went in) the Kings were able to push the puck up the ice and Anze Kopitar fired a shot caught and held by Smith. The refs reviewed Doan's shot and quickly gave the goal to the Coyotes, met with a chorus of "boos" from the fans.
Smith continued to play well finishing with 36 saves, finally outshining Quick with the victory. Phoenix defensemen helped out by blocking shots, getting back, and forcing the L.A. forwards to low-percantage angles. Kopitar, Willie Mitchell, and Brad Richardson all fell victim to posts and crossbars.
A cause for concern for the Kings is their powerplay production. Entering today's game the Kings were 6/64 (roughly nine percent) this postseason on extra-man opportunities. Today was no different as the unit went 0-5 and only put five shots on net. The Coyotes have been consistent in killing penalties on the road (21/21 this postseason) but today's struggles rest solely on the Kings.
The Kings only had two or three strong scoring chances on their powerplays, which isn't enough against a consistent goalie like Smith. Sloppy puck-handling and inaccurate passes made it difficult for the Kings to settle in the zone and get shots.
Already struggling on converting powerplays to goals the Kings did not help themselves. Defensmen Alec Martinez was called for holding nullifying their powerplay shortly after Doan's second goal. Martinez, along with two other Kings, had surronded Lauri Korpikoski in the neutral zone far from the net. Martinez grabbed hold of the Coyotes' uniform and was sent to the box completely killing what little momentum they had.
Despite winning the majority of the statistical categories the Kings dropped a tough game to a team that was determined to not be swept. Game five takes place Tuesday night in Phoenix, the question is whether the Kings come back home with the Campbell Bowl or preparing for a game six.