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Kings Can't Face Off Against Coyotes

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Two faceoff losses by the Kings allowed the game to be tied 2-2 late in regulation as the Phoenix Coyotes beat the Kings 3-2 in the shootout.

Neither team was sharp from the starting horn with the Kings having to go on the penalty kill three times within the first 14 minutes of the game. Fortunately the Coyotes could only muster two shots on goal in their power play and really didn’t have a scoring opportunity in those six minutes.

“When we are focused on penalty killing, it takes a lot of guys out of the line up,” head coach Terry Murray said. “It was hard to get going.”

But fortunately for the Kings the Coyotes ranked 28th in the NHL on the power play could only muster three shots on goal in six power play opportunities the entire game.

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The Kings got on the scoreboard first with one of the greatest goals scored this season for the Kings. Drew Doughty sped from the Kings zone, got the puck in the neutral zone, split two defenders and backhanded the puck past Coyotes’ goalie and former King Jason LaBarbera 7:48 in the second period.

“I knew that I had those [defensemen] there pretty far apart,” Doughty said. “I knew that if I kept up my speed that I could do a little trick play to get over his stick. Once I did that it was just beating Barbs.

“When I got that puck I didn’t know what I was going to do. It was kind of a panic move, and it went in the net. It worked out well.”

Doughty who day by day is being talked about more as a candidate for the James Norris Memorial Trophy given to the top defenseman currently is third in the NHL for points for defenseman with 58.

“There’s got to be a lot of consideration for him,” Murray said of Doughty. “He plays in critical moments, lots of minutes.”

The Kings went up 2-0 9:16 in the third period when Ryan Smyth passed the puck from the blue line to a streaking Jack Johnson at the left faceoff circle who shot it just above LaBarbera’s shoulder.

Just as everything seemed to be pointing to the Kings tying a franchise record in wins, they broke down on the faceoff.

Matthew Lombardi after a faceoff in the right circle in the Kings zone got a great pass by Wojtek Wolski and put the puck in with Kopitar’s back to his face 12:43 in the third period.

Then just more than a minute later after the Coyotes cleanly won the face off from the exact same place, Zbynek Michalek shot the puck from the right point with Taylor Pyatt getting the deflection past Quick to tie it 2-2.

“On both of those goals you just have to have heavier sticks and sticks in the right place,” Murray said.

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“We can’t be losing checks especially out of the draw,” captain Dustin Brown said. “We have to make sure we’ve got our guys off those draws. We failed to do that tonight.”

In the shootout, Anze Kopitar scored in the first round for the Kings with what looked to be the winning goal. However in the third round quick gave up a backhanded goal by Radim Vrbata to send it to sudden death where in the fourth round Adrian Aucoin wristed the winner.

Despite the loss, Murray isn’t overly worried.

“I don’t’ think the killer instinct is lacking,” he said. “I think it was just two faceoff losses. I’m not going to make it any more than that. We just needed heavier coverage, closer coverage behind the net.”

The Kings have just two more regular season games to work on that. If the Kings win those two they will clinch the fifth seed in the Western Conference.