The Los Angeles Kings don’t mind one bit playing on the road. An impressive 5-0 record away from the Staples Centre in these playoffs heading into the Western Final, the Kings have been true road warriors in these playoffs. You can now make it 6-0 on the road for the Kings. Despite not getting the best game from Vezina trophy candidate Jonathan Quick, the Kings dominated Game one, en route to a 4-2 win over the Phoenix Coyotes, to draw first blood in the Western Final.
The Kings came out strong in the first period, using their size and strength to their advantage, as they physically took apart the Coyotes. That physical play led to Anze Kopitar’s fourth goal of the playoffs as he fired a backhand past Mike Smith for the game’s opening goal. The Kings continued to press, as they used a strong forecheck to smother the Coyotes. In fact, Phoenix did not record their first shot of the game until the 7:30 minute mark of the first period. However Smith was strong between the pipes which kept the Coyotes in it. Phoenix got their break at the 13:26 mark as Derek Morris beat Quick from centre ice to tie the game. It was a fluke goal, but Quick, who has been Terry Sawchuk like in these playoffs, looked more like Dan Cloutier on that goal.
The second period saw more of the same, as the Kings continued to wear down the Coyotes physically. Phoenix were getting more chances but Quick did bounce back and made a couple of solid saves. The Kings took the lead midway through the period as Dwight King finished off a lovely pass from Mike Richards on a 2 on 1, to restore the Kings one goal lead. Phoenix tied it late in the second as Mikkel Boedker wristed home his fourth of the postseason, to send both teams to the locker rooms deadlocked at the intermission.
Kings captain Dustin Brown decided to take over early in the third. The Conn Smythe candidate, if the Kings win the Stanley Cup, broke down the right wing, and whistled a shot over the glove of Smith to give the Kings a 3-2 lead just 2:11 into the third. Both teams traded power play opportunities in the third, but neither could capitalize. Dwight King iced the game, scoring his second goal of the game into the empty net to seal Game 1 for the Kings.
While the Kings did dominate, their power play did struggle, going 0 for 4 with the man advantage. The Kings success rate on the power play is a meagre 7.8% and they must improve that if they want to win the big prize. Phoenix isn’t any better with the extra man. The Coyotes were 0 for 5 in Game 1 and are only at a 13.9% success rate with the power play. Suffice to say, whichever team can get their power play going, will most likely win the series.
Game 2 is set for Tuesday night at Jobing.com Arena in Glendale.
1. Dwight King
2. Dustin Brown
3. Mike Smith