|PHX||0||1||0||(0 - 0)||1|
|LAK||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||0|
By Curtis Zupke | NHL.com Correspondent
LOS ANGELES -- Every team in the playoff race says it is involved in playoff hockey in terms of hard-fought, chippy, stingy defensive affairs. Few clubs demonstrate it quite like the Coyotes and the Los Angeles Kings did on Thursday night at the Staples Center.
The teams combined for four fights and 40 penalty minutes in the opening period alone, and when the tempers settled down Phoenix (28-21-9) got the game's only goal for a 1-0 victory that leapfrogged it over LA (27-20-11) for seventh place in the Western Conference standings.
“That was a very competitive game," Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett said. "We knew they were going to be competitive. We had to make sure that our team was very competitive. We talked about the importance of this game and where we are in the standings and where they are in the standings. We had to be all in if we’re going to have a chance at winning this game and I thought we were all in... We played a smart hard game and we found a way to win.”
Coyotes goalie Mike Smith stopped 28 shots and made Radim Vrbata's second-period power-play goal (see KEY MOMENT below) stand up for his second shutout in a row.
The Coyotes, who were in 12th place in the West on Feb. 3, extended their season-high unbeaten streak to seven games (6-0-1). Both teams have 65 points in 58 games, but the Coyotes have three more non-shootout wins.
LA had only four shots in the first 15 minutes of the third period and couldn’t convert on a six-on-four advantage in the final 90 seconds after Coyotes defenseman Michal Rozsival was called for cross-checking and the Kings pulled goaltender Jonathan Quick for an extra attacker.
The scoreless opening period featured three official fights and a scrap between Smith and Anze Kopitar behind the Phoenix net that prompted Quick to skate all the way out to the Coyotes blue line for a potential goalie battle.
Phoenix captain Shane Doan fought Kings counterpart Dustin Brown after Brown knocked Rostislav Klesla out the game with a check. Klesla suffered an upper-body injury and his status was not immediately known.
|Photo by Getty Images.|
“It speaks volumes about Shane Doan and the rest of our group and how they care for each other and want to stick up for each other," Tippett said. "They’re willing to go to battle for each other. That’s just part of the game and it’s a part of the game that I think is entrenched in all these players. When you play the game of hockey you stick up for your teammates and that’s what that was all about.”
Doan said his fight with Brown was a no-brainer.
"It’s part of the game and 'Browny' plays that way all the time," Doan said. "He hits hard. Both sides are trying to set the tone and he was more than willing (to fight) and it’s part of the game."
Doan added: "It’s one of those games that you love to play in and you really like to win. It was a big one for us."
► EDITOR'S NOTE: Dave Vest of phoenixcoyotes.com edited this story and compiled this recap.
|Shane Doan Fighting (maj) against Dustin Brown|
|Dustin Brown Fighting (maj) against Shane Doan|
|Adrian Aucoin Hi-sticking against Jordan Nolan|
|Mike Smith Roughing against Anze Kopitar|
|Adrian Aucoin Interference against Anze Kopitar|
|Anze Kopitar Interference on goalkeeper against Mike Smith|
|Mike Richards Fighting (maj) against Martin Hanzal|
|Martin Hanzal Fighting (maj) against Mike Richards|
|Willie Mitchell Roughing against Michal Rozsival|
|Raffi Torres Fighting (maj) against Colin Fraser|
|Colin Fraser Fighting (maj) against Raffi Torres|
|Brad Richardson Hooking against Paul Bissonnette|
|Jack Johnson Delaying Game-Puck over glass|
|Mike Richards Unsportsmanlike conduct|
|Kevin Westgarth Fighting (maj) against Paul Bissonnette|
|Paul Bissonnette Fighting (maj) against Kevin Westgarth|
|Jordan Nolan Slashing against Boyd Gordon|
|Michal Rozsival Cross checking against Dustin Brown|
|Dustin Brown Interference against Adrian Aucoin|
|SA: 28||TOI: 59:45|
|Saves: 28||EV: 23 - 23|
|PIM: 2||PP: 3 - 3|
|SV%: 1.000||SH: 2 - 2|
|SA: 21||TOI: 58:41|
|Saves: 20||EV: 13 - 13|
|PIM: 0||PP: 7 - 8|
|SV%: .952||SH: 0 - 0|