GLENDALE, Ariz. – The Phoenix Coyotes are in a deep hole after letting their emotions get the best of them.
Frustrated after being unable to contain the skilled and gritty Kings for the second straight game, the Coyotes were hit with a slew of penalties in a 4-0 loss Tuesday night that gave Los Angeles a commanding lead in the Western Conference finals.
“It’s frustrating not winning, not being able to do the things you want to do,” Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. “That’s for sure.”
Needing to bounce back from a loss in the opener Sunday night, the Coyotes played better early and fell apart late after becoming discouraged while the more-skilled Kings skated around them for goals.
Phoenix was hit with a string of penalties starting late in the second period, including a game misconduct to captain Shane Doan for boarding Kings centre Trevor Lewis. Martin Hanzal also received one for boarding Dustin Brown in the third period and the Coyotes had 13 penalties for 56 minutes—most coming after the final 5 minutes of the second period.
“I think the frustration level sets in,” Coyotes goalie Mike Smith said. “You’re in the penalty box that much against a team that’s in the conference finals, you’re going to pay.”
Los Angeles withstood Phoenix’s early push and string of penalties, taking a 2-0 series lead by matching an NHL record with its seventh straight road playoff victory.
Jeff Carter scored three goals, Jonathan Quick stopped 24 shots and the Kings will head back to Los Angeles in complete control of the series after flummoxing the Coyotes in two games in the desert.
Dwight King scored his third goal in two games, Quick tied Felix Potvin’s team record with his third career playoff shutout, and Carter finished off the Kings’ first playoff hat trick since Wayne Gretzky in 1993 in the third period.
Los Angeles has won seven straight overall, tied an NHL record by opening the playoffs 7-0 on the road, and matched another record by winning nine straight road playoff games over two seasons.
The New York Islanders won a pair of Stanley Cup titles while winning nine straight road games from 1982-83, and the Kings are starting to look like a team that could go on a Cup run of its own.
Game 3 is Thursday night in Los Angeles.
“It’s a mindset; we get away, there’s no distractions,” Carter said. “For some reason, this team likes to play on the road.”
The Kings won the opener 4-2 by outplaying and outhustling the Coyotes. Knowing Phoenix’s makeup, the Kings figured to get more of a pushback in Game 2.
And the Coyotes were much more aggressive early, winning some of the individual battles they lost in Game 1 while creating some decent scoring chances.
Even with all of Phoenix’s hard work and a couple of line changes by coach Dave Tippett, the Kings still managed to score first. King got it, redirecting a shot by Drew Doughty that beat Smith stick side late in the period.
Hard work in the corners by Mike Richards set up Los Angeles’ second goal, by Carter. He muscled the puck past Smith’s glove side as he was going down on a feed from Dustin Penner that made it 2-0 early in the second period.
Then things completely unraveled for the Coyotes.
Doan, who was suspended three games for elbowing earlier in the season, was given a game misconduct and a five-minute boarding penalty for ramming Lewis from behind. Defenceman Keith Yandle was already in the penalty box and Daymond Langkow joined him after a slashing penalty, giving Los Angeles a two-man advantage for more than 2 minutes.
Brown was sent off for diving on a slash by Smith, but that didn’t bother the Kings. Carter scored his second a few seconds later on a redirect of a shot by Anze Kopitar, putting Los Angeles up 3-0.
With the Coyotes racking up penalties seemingly on every shift, Carter finished them off with his fifth career hat trick, punching in a rebound with the Kings on a two-man advantage after Hanzal’s hit on Brown.
“There’s no question there’s going to be frustration, especially when you get down in a game like that, guys try to finish their checks on the edge,” Coyotes forward Taylor Pyatt said. “We’ve got to try and find some positives and get things turned around in Game 3.”
Even if they do, it may not matter the way the Kings are playing.
Notes: The Kings were without D Colin Fraser, out of the lineup attending to a family matter. … Coyotes LW Ray Whitney played in his 100th career playoff game. D Michael Stone played his first with Adrian Aucoin still out of the lineup and David Schlemko still not fully healthy. … Rocker Alice Cooper, who lives in the Valley, attended the game. … The last team to win seven straight road playoff games in one season was Chicago in 2010.