GLENDALE, Ariz. – With only a couple thousand on hand, if that, the Phoenix Coyotes began an uncertain pre-season with a 4-2 split-squad win over the Los Angeles Kings.
Minority owner and coach Wayne Gretzky was nowhere to be seen as the franchise awaits resolution of its case in U.S. Bankruptcy Court and a final decision on its ownership. Associate coach Ulf Samuelsson ran the bench.
Jim Vandemeer scored a power-play goal in his Phoenix debut and Vernon Fiddler, Jeff Hoggan and David Spina, who went to high school in the area, also scored for the Coyotes. Phoenix started mostly regulars against a roster made up mostly of Kings’ reserves as the teams simultaneously played games in Glendale and Los Angeles.
Wayne Simmonds scored both Kings goals.
In the other split-squad between the two team played in Los Angeles, Jack Johnson scored two goals and assisted on another to help the Kings beat the Coyotes 4-3.
Shortly after assisting on a power-play goal by Teddy Purcell that gave the Kings a 3-2 third period lead, Johnson cut through the Phoenix defence for a shorthanded goal.
Peter Mueller, Mikkel Boedker and Keith Yandle all scored for Phoenix, which also played a split-squad in Arizona with the other half of the Kings’ roster.
Kevin Porter had three assists for the Coyotes and Justin Williams had a goal and an assist for the Kings.
Ryan Smyth, acquired in a July trade with Colorado, saw ice time for the Kings, as did top 2006 draft pick Jonathan Bernier, who played all three periods and made 20 saves.
Phoenix goalie Al Montoya had 32 stops.