LOS ANGELES – The first three times the Los Angeles Kings scored in the shootout, Phoenix responded with a goal. The Coyotes’ luck ran out in the eighth round.
The Kings capitalized on the absence of suspended Phoenix defenceman Ed Jovanovski, as Oscar Moller and Jack Johnson scored first-period goals Thursday night in a 3-2 victory that snapped the Coyotes’ five-game winning streak. It was Los Angeles’ longest shootout.
Justin Williams beat Ilya Bryzgalov in the eighth round and Jonathan Quick stopped Scottie Upshall to win it for the Kings.
“It was a big two points. They are right there in our division, so it’s good to beat them and get that extra point,” Quick said after the Kings’ sixth victory in seven games and third straight against Phoenix. “We have been winning some games of late, so we just have to keep things going and continue the momentum.”
Jovanovski was suspended by the NHL after hitting Minnesota’s Andrew Ebbett in the head with his forearm during Monday’s 2-0 win. He will also will sit out on Saturday against San Jose before being eligible to play Monday at Detroit.
The hit didn’t draw a penalty during the game.
“I think in fairness to the referees, the game is pretty quick, and things happen on the ice that sometimes go unnoticed,” Jovanovski said. “The league sees it later from 100 different angles, but the refs see it at one speed and one angle.
“I’m not saying that players deserve suspensions,” said the 14-year veteran and five-time all-star. “It’s a physical game. Unfortunately, guys skate with their head down, and at the last second reactionary things kind of clip them. The bottom line is that the league is taking out shots to the head. They’re doing everything they can to clean up the game.”
Quick made 28 saves for the Kings, 14-0 when leading after two periods. They haven’t lost in that situation since being beaten by the Coyotes on April 2.
“We have to win the Western Conference games – in particular our division,” Johnson said. “We have to try and keep the gap rolling between us and everyone else in our division.”
Radim Vrbata scored the tying goal for Phoenix during a power play with 16:48 left in regulation. Upshall also scored, and Bryzgalov made 28 saves. Bryzgalov was 8-2 with a 2.20 goals-against average in his previous 10 starts against Los Angeles.
“You hate to get behind like that, but we battled back hard and ended up getting the equalizer in the third,” Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. “We’ll take the point, but I think there were two to be had.”
Only one minor penalty was called against each team through the first two periods. The third penalty set the stage for the tying goal by the Coyotes, who were 0-for-18 with the man advantage during their previous five games.
Petr Prucha won a faceoff deep in the Los Angeles zone, and Vrbata poked in a rebound of Zbynek Michalek’s long slap shot seconds later for his eighth goal, snapping an eight-game drought.
Bryzgalov, coming off his NHL-leading fourth shutout, fell behind 1-0 at 4:11 of the first period. Wayne Simmonds carried the puck along the right boards and circled the net before setting up a short one-timer by Moller that caromed in off the right post for his first goal in five games this season.
Johnson scored his third goal at 13:37 on a one-timer from the slot, nearly the same spot he shot from seconds earlier when the puck ricocheted off the right post back to him.
Upshall got Phoenix on the board at 16:55 of the first, one-timing a cross-ice pass from Matthew Lombardi from about 20 feet for his team-high ninth goal.
“I thought Bryz played great, holding the fort for us,” Upshall said. “We did the right things to come back in the game. But when it goes to a shootout, anything can happen, and they were the ones that got the edge.”
NOTES: Kings tough guy Raitis Ivanans, the only forward in the league to play at least 30 games this season without a point, was a healthy scratch for the third time. … The Coyotes are 18-11-2 in their first season under Tippett, who took over on Sept. 24 after Wayne Gretzky resigned. Gretzky was 16-13-2 in his first 31 games with Phoenix. … The Kings are 7-3-1 since Ryan Smyth was sidelined by an upper body injury. … Lombardi earned his 200th NHL point with an assist on Upshall’s goal.