The NHL Playoff Recap gives you THN’s take of what happened in each game of the night and what the consequences will be for the rest of the series.
We also provide our Three Stars of the night, which will be tabulated after each round. First Star is three points, Second Star is two points and Third Star is one point. Be sure to vote on who you think the first star was as well.
Of course there’s the other side of the coin: The Black Hole is a piece of the lineup that just couldn’t get it going on a given night and contributed to a difficult evening for the team.
KINGS/COYOTES, GAME 3: KINGS 2, COYOTES 1 (KINGS LEAD SERIES 3-0)
THN’s Take: Only six teams in NHL history have posted back-to-back four-game sweeps and none since the Chicago Blackhawks in 1992. Is there anyone outside the greater Phoenix area who doesn’t think the Los Angeles Kings are destined to join that select company Sunday afternoon?
Well, let’s consider it has been one day short of a full month since the last time the Kings experienced a defeat. Let’s also consider the Phoenix Coyotes had by far their best game of the series in Game 3 of the Western Conference final and still weren’t good enough to beat the Kings. And finally, consider the fact there simply is not one single passenger on the Kings runaway playoff train at the moment.
The cast of standouts continues to rotate for the Kings, but the bottom line is this team is getting solid contributions from everyone. Goalie Jonathan Quick allows what might have been his first questionable goal in the playoffs and what happens? The Kings top line of Anze Kopitar between Dustin Brown and Justin Williams comes back right away to tie the score.
Hey, at least the Coyotes can say they led for two minutes and seven seconds, which is a lot more than most of their recent opponents can say.
For a team to be this successful, it needs contributions from unexpected sources and the Kings are getting just that. Dwight King, the first player named King to ever play for the Kings, suddenly has five playoff goals, with four of them coming in this series. Playing on a line with a rejuvenated Jarrett Stoll and Trevor Lewis, King now leads all rookies in playoff scoring with five goals.
The Coyotes, meanwhile, have been complicit in all of this on a couple of fronts. First, it’s clear they’ve collided headfirst into a brick wall in the third round of the playoffs. Secondly, they haven’t been able to generate near enough offense in this series to give themselves a fighting chance. Of course, that’s difficult when the other team seems so intent on outworking its opponent and spends much of the game with the puck on its sticks. And they have not been able to figure out a way to score against a Kings penalty-killing unit that has been as close to perfect as a team can be.
There is no hope the Coyotes will win this series. There, we said it. All they can hope to do now is steal a game on the road against a team that looks absolutely unbeatable. Chances are far greater the Kings will put a bow on this series Sunday afternoon and then cool their heels for about 10 days waiting for the Stanley Cup final to start.
1. Jarrett Stoll: The anchor of the Kings third line was all over the ice in Game 3 and was instrumental in setting up the decisive goal.
2. Anze Kopitar: The hottest player on the hottest team in the NHL was at it again with the tying goal, which gives him 4-6-10 totals in his past six games.
3. Dustin Brown: Not only did he spring Kopitar for his breakaway goal with a sublime pass, he was all over the ice once again, drawing penalties and causing havoc.
Who do you think was the first star?
THE BLACK HOLE: This might not be fair, particularly with the way his team is playing in front of him, but Mike Smith is not the same impenetrable force he was in the first two rounds of the playoffs. It seems if the Coyotes are going to have any hoping of winning a game, Smith is going to have to steal it for them.