Kings Score Three Early, Yet Fall to Coyotes in Shootout

Phoenix came roaring back despite an ugly first period and subsequent deficit. (Photo courtesy of Norm Hall NHLI via Getty Images)

Despite an offensive explosion that no one saw coming (put your hand down, Darryl Sutter), the Kings eventually fell in a shootout to the division rival Phoenix Coyotes by a 5-4 score.

Phoenix tied the game in the final moments of regulation thanks to a somewhat controversial penalty handed to the Kings’ Kyle Clifford for an illegal hit on Gilbert Brule. The hit itself won’t be up for too much debate—Clifford, whether he intended to or not, made contact with the head of an opposing player well after the play had continued several feet down the ice. He is currently suspended pending further review from league disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan and while the second year winger does not have a history of illegal checks, it would not be surprising to see Clifford dealt a two or three game suspension for his actions.

Clifford was given a five minute match penalty, which after some four-on-four time for both squads, gave Phoenix three minutes worth of a power play in the contest’s waning moments. Radim Vrbata continued his torrid 2011-12 campaign and netted his thirtieth of the year and second of the game to give his team a much needed point in the standings as the game extended to overtime and eventual shootout.

Dustin Brown scored the Kings’ only marker of the shootout while the Coyotes recorded two—enough to prevail as the winner.

The point that Los Angeles received for their efforts put the squad back in the playoff picture as the current eighth seed. They sit one point ahead of Calgary, who were embarrassed by Edmonton to the tune of a 6-1 defeat last night. The Kings also trail division leading San Jose by a total of three points with twenty-two games remaining in the season.

Los Angeles scored early and often in this one, breaking a scoreless streak of more than two entire games. They had previously lost two 1-0 contests at the hands of Phoenix and Calgary last week.

Drew Doughty recorded his sixth goal of the season a little more than six minutes into the opening frame. His blistering shot from just outside the faceoff circle traveled over the pad of Phoenix’s Mike Smith to give L.A. a 1-0 lead, their first lead in a considerable amount of time.

Andrei Loktionov and Brown added goals of their own before the first period reached its conclusion, their third and fourteenth of the season, respectively.

The lead would not last however as Phoenix came roaring back in the second frame to score three goals of their own. Vrbata collected his first of the game less than a minute into play. Captain Shane Doan scored twice, one prior to and one after Justin Williams’s fourteenth on the season. At the end of the second period, the Kings still held a 4-3 lead. The team had previously squandered only one lead in their previous season and a half of play when leading after two.

It would not last though, as Vrbata tied the game on the aforementioned power play with two and a half minutes left to play.

Jonathan Quick did not have his best night between the pipes, as he allowed four goals on twenty-nine shots.

Up next for the Kings is a primetime matchup on the NBC Sports Network tonight at 9:00pm. They will face off against the Colorado Avalanche at the fabled Pepsi Center.