By Anthony Perez | Dave Vest GLENDALE – With Shane Doan serving the first game of a three-game suspension, and Martin Hanzal out of the lineup because of injury, the Coyotes needed other players to step up. On Thursday night, Lee Stempniak did exactly that.
Stempniak notched his first NHL hat trick to key Phoenix's 4-2 victory over Los Angeles at Jobing.com Arena.
The Coyotes (2-2-1) came charging out of the gates early. Stempniak picked up his first goal of the night, and his first of the season, when he redirected a slap shot by defenseman Ed Jovanovski past Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick just 4:30 into the game.
Phoenix was able to extend its lead to 3-0in the second period when Andrew Ebbett, who was recently recalled from the American Hockey League after Hanzal suffered a lower-body injury, scored a short-handed goal just over five minutes into the period (see KEY MOMENT below).
“I think everyone did the little things tonight to help us win,” said Jovanovski, who had three assists. “It is going to have to be like that and they are not going to be the prettiest games.”
Lee Stempniak attacks LA's goal on Thursday. Photo by Getty Images.
Wayne Simmonds scored twice for the Kings (4-2-0). His first goal came at the 8:20 mark of the second period. His second goal - a wrist shot that just trickled past Coyotes goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov - created some tension with just 2:41 left in the third period.
But Stempniak put the game away for the Coyotes when he shot into an empty net from the neutral zone with 35 seconds left to secure the hat trick, his first after 10 two-goal games.
“He’d been getting lots of chances the four games before,” Head Coach Dave Tippett said when asked about Stempniak. “He was the leader on our team of actual scoring chances. It’s good to see him get on the board.”
Bryzgalov stopped 28 of 30 shots to earn the second star of the game, while Quick stopped 23 of the 27 shots he faced in his first defeat of the season.
The Kings played without defenseman Drew Doughty, who didn't make the trip due to an upper body injury he suffered on Wednesday night vs. Carolina.
The Coyotes led 2-0 when defenseman David Schlemko was sent to the penalty box for hooking at 4:59 of the second period.
Instead of letting LA back into the game by allowing a power-play goal, Phoenix upped its lead to 3-0 when center Andrew Ebbett scored a short-handed goal in his first game with the Coyotes.
Ebbett raced the puck into LA's zone up the right side on a 2-on-1 break and fired a nifty shot between the pads of Kings goalie Jonathan Quick at 5:49.
"The guys down in San Antonio have been kind of on me the last couple games because I've been passing on those opportunities so I've switched my focus to shooting the puck a little morte," Ebbett said.
• Captain Shane Doan served the first game of a three-game suspension. Defenseman Ed Jovanovski, regularly an alternate captain, wore the "C" on his sweater in Doan's absence. Doan had played in 193 consecutive regular-season games, dating to Feb. 11, 2008.
• Forward Ray Whitney made his regular-season debut at Jobing.com Arena. He played 15:31 and took one shot on goal.
• Andrew Ebbett's short-handed goal was the first short-handed goal this season for the Coyotes, who have killed 19 of 21 penalties in five games.
• The Coyotes will practice Friday at Jobing.com Arena. That practice is closed to the public. Phoenix's next game is on Satuday vs. Carolina at Jobing.com Arena. The puck drops at 6 p.m. (Arizona time). The game can be heard on XTRA Sports 910 (AM).
"It feels great. Obviously to do that in a win and help the team in a pretty big game, it’s a great feeling... It was a big game for us in terms of establishing our identity."
"I haven't played an NHL game in a little while so it was nice to jump back in there and get the energy up. It's a lot of fun playing up here."
"We weren’t prepared to play for the first 20 (minutes). We were watching the game, kind of feeling the team out, and when you have a team like that they’re going to jump over teams that are standing still."
• Jan. 20, 2011: • March 3, 2011:
• April 6, 2011: