Los Angeles Kings get late winner at Arizona Coyotes

By Craig Morgan, The Sports Xchange  |  Feb. 1, 2017 at 8:31 AM
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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Los Angeles Kings coach Darryl Sutter likened the jumbled Western Conference playoff race to the peloton at the Tour de France, where the main pack of cyclists are lumped together.

"You've got to stay in that group," Sutter said. "Don't get caught in any of that wine-and-cheese stuff."

Los Angeles stayed on course Tuesday at Gila River Arena. Anze Kopitar had a goal and two assists, Jordan Nolan added a goal, and Jeff Carter set up Jake Muzzin with a perfect pass in front of the net for the game-winning goal on a power play with 1:49 left in regulation as the Kings defeated the Coyotes 3-2 for their third straight win.

Los Angeles (25-21-4) moved into the first wild-card spot from the Western Conference, one point ahead of the St. Louis Blues and Calgary Flames.

Peter Budaj made 29 saves for the Kings.

"Coming out of the break, I didn't think our start was the best, but their first goal kind of woke us up," Kopitar said. "From the second half of the first period on was what we wanted to do, and we got it rolling."

Jordan Martinook and Ryan White scored for Arizona, which got 36 saves from Mike Smith but saw its season-high, three-game winning streak end.

The Coyotes were whistled for penalties twice in the game's final nine minutes, and coach Dave Tippett wasn't happy about it.

"Both were soft calls in a tight game like that," Tippett said of slashing penalty on Martinook and a tripping call on Martin Hanzal. "That being said, we defended too much. They pushed hard, and we didn't push back hard enough."

The Coyotes took a 1-0 lead at 8:48 of the first period when fourth-line center Martinook collected a rebound off Connor Murphy's shot from the point that hit Kings center Nic Dowd in front. Martinook slipped the puck through Budaj's pads for his seventh goal of the season and first since Dec. 15. It was the third straight game in which Arizona's fourth line registered a goal.

"We're just three guys that work hard, and luckily we've been getting rewarded lately," Martinook said of a line that also features Lawson Crouse and White. "It's easy to play with guys when you know where they're going to be."

Kopitar tied the game 2:03 later when he found a loose puck in front of the net and scored through traffic for his sixth goal of the season. The rebound came off Drew Doughty's shot from the right point, with Marian Gaborik getting the first whack at it and picking up the first assist.

Smith kept the game tied with a terrific glove save on a slap shot from Muzzin from the top of the left circle early in the second period.

"Fast hands," Muzzin said of Smith while shaking his head.

White put the Coyotes on top 2-1 late in the second period when he gathered a rebound of Crouse's initial shot at the right side of the net and lifted a high snap shot past Budaj at 18:30. It was the fourth line's fourth goal in the past three games.

Los Angeles tied the game at 2-2 just 25 seconds later when Nolan sped down the right wing and slipped a shot through Smith, who tried to pokecheck the puck but failed. Three of Nolan's four goals have come against the Coyotes.

NOTES:

-- Coyotes RW Shane Doan played his 1,515th game, passing Steve Yzerman for 16th place on the NHL's all-time list.

-- Coyotes LW Max Domi skated after the team's morning skate. Coach Dave Tippett is hopeful he will join the team at practice on Wednesday. Domi hasn't played since breaking his hand in a fight against Calgary on Dec. 8.

-- Coyotes C Brad Richardson (broken right tibia and fibula) is out indefinitely but has resumed skating.

-- Kings C Nic Dowd (lower body) returned to the lineup after a three-game absence.

-- RW Tyler Toffoli (lower body) and D Matt Greene (back) are on injured reserve, with the latter's designation coming Monday. Kings coach Darryl Sutter said Tuesday that Toffoli "appears on the verge of making a comeback," after he participated in the team's morning skate. Toffoli has missed 18 straight games.

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