By Dave Vest
LOS ANGELES – Despite a nice comeback, the Coyotes’ five-game winning streak ended abruptly in the eighth round of a shootout Thursday night at the Staples Center.
Los Angeles Kings goalie Jonathan Quick gloved a wrist shot by Scottie Upshall to cap the shootout and a 3-2 victory over Phoenix.
Moments earlier, LA’s Justin Williams backhanded the puck past Coyotes goalie Ilya Bryzgalov to put the pressure on Upshall, who had scored his team-high ninth goal of the season to pull Phoenix to within 2-1 a few hours earlier.
Peter Mueller, Petr Prucha and Robert Lang netted shootout goals for the Coyotes, but successful shots by Williams, Drew Doughty, Michael Handzus and Jack Johnson keyed LA’s third straight win over Phoenix.
The Coyotes (18-11-2) spotted LA a 2-0 lead in the first period but rallied to tie the score by scoring late in the first period and early in the third (See KEY MOMENT below).
“You hate to get behind like that, but we battled back hard and ended up getting the equalizer in the third,” Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett said. “We’ll take the point, but I think there were two (points) to be had tonight. There were some decent chances but I thought we could execute a lot better in situations. The chances we were giving away were a lot of unforced errors on our part. In the end, we come in and recognize we can do things a little bit better, take a point and move on.”
Quick made 29 saves for the Kings (20-10-3), who are unbeaten in the 14 games they’ve led after two periods this season.
Early in the first period, LA’s Wayne Simmonds carried the puck behind the Phoenix net and slid a pass to Oscar Moller who was stationed at the left side of goal. Moller tapped the puck in for a quick 1-0 lead.
Later in the period, LA’s Jack Johnson took a shot that hit the crossbar and bounced right back to him. His follow-up shot hit a Coyotes defender and deflected past Bryzgalov at 13:37 for a 2-0 advantage.
Upshall scored his goal at 16:55 of the first period as part of a two-on-one rush in the LA zone that Peter Mueller helped create with a nice chip pass from the boards in the Phoenix zone. Matthew Lombardi took Mueller’s pass and he and Upshall quickly headed toward Quick. Upshall one-timed a feed from Lombardi past Quick from the right circle.
Neither team scored in the middle period.
“The guys dug in,” Kings Head Coach Terry Murray said. “ It wasn’t always the prettiest out there tonight, but we found a way to get it done.”
Take your pick. When an NHL game goes eight rounds in a shootout it’s very challenging to select one moment that defined the game.
Nevertheless, the shootout never would have happened had Coyotes center Martin Hanzal not managed to feed linemate Radim Vrbata the puck for an easy, score-tying goal with a nifty cross-crease pass at 3:12 of the third period.
Vrbata's goal came with four seconds left on a power play to snap Phoenix's 0-for-19 power-play drought.
• The Coyotes played without defenseman/alternate captain Ed Jovanovski, who was suspended by the NHL after hitting Minnesota's Andrew Ebbett in the head during Monday's 2-0 win. Jovanovski must also sit out Saturday’s home game against San Jose.
• Center Matthew Lombardi assisted on Scottie Upshall’s goal. The helper was the 200th point of Lombardi’s NHL career.
• The Coyotes killed both of LA’s power plays. That makes 17 penalty kills in a row for Phoenix.
• Forward Radim Vrbata has scored eight goals this season. Half of them have come vs. Los Angeles.
• Defenseman Zbynek Michalek played a game-high 28:31, and notched an assist and five blocked shots.
• Phoenix scratched Paul Bissonnette. Los Angeles scratched Peter Harrold and Raitis Ivanans.
"It was a tight game and we came back from a two-goal deficit so that’s a good point. They were better for the first 10 minutes, then we jumped back and played the second half of the game (better)."
"We did the right things to come back in a hockey game, and, you know, when it goes to a shootout anything can happen and they were the ones that got the edge."
"It was a big two points. They are right there in our division, three or four points behind us, and it’s good to beat them and get that extra point. We have been winning some games of late so we just have to keep things going and continue the momentum."
• Oct. 3, 2009: PHX 6, LA 3
• Dec. 10, 2009: LA 3, PHX 2 (SO)
• April 8, 2010: