The Key Three: Feb. 21
Three key aspects of the Kings' 5-4 shootout loss to the Phoenix Coyotes
1. SURPRISING LETDOWNS FOR QUICK, PK
What are the chances? In a game in which the Kings finally put some goals on the board -- three of them, in one period! -- the two strongest aspects of their team both suffered a letdown. Jonathan Quick looked sharp early, but seemed to get rattled a bit in the second period as the Coyotes gained momentum. That’s easy to write off. Quick has been brilliant this season. He’s human, and he’s not perfect. What about the penalty kill? The Kings entered the game having allowed one power-play goal in their last nine games. Phoenix, with the league’s worst power-play percentage, scored three power-play goals on seven chances.
2. KINGS LOOSENED THE GRIP
The Kings had everything go right in the first period, and came out for the second period with a 3-0 lead. There was bound to be some push-back by the Coyotes, but if the Kings could hold the fort for the first five minutes or so, they figured to be fine. The last thing -- the absolute last thing -- the Kings wanted to do was take an early penalty and give the Coyotes a chance to generate momentum. So what happened? On the very first shift of the period, 28 seconds into the period, Jack Johnson took a holding penalty. The Coyotes scored quickly, the crowd got into the game, and the Kings suddenly had something to worry about.
3. CLIFFORD’S QUESTIONABLE HIT
As the final seconds ticked away, from Kyle Clifford’s tripping penalty, it appeared as though the Kings could exhale. Less than seven minutes remained in the third period, and the Coyotes were bound to be a bit down, particularly since Quick had just made a couple fantastic saves on the penalty kill. Clifford came out of the box and, just a few seconds later, leveled Gilbert Brule along the boards. After officials convened, Clifford got a match penalty. After two minutes of 4-on-4 play, the Kings had to kill three minutes of Phoenix power play and couldn’t do it, as the Coyotes scored a game-tying goal.