Scoring the first goal of the game has been a subplot in the Kings’ playoff success so far. Before Game 3 against Phoenix, the Kings had scored the first goal in eight of their 11 games. The Coyotes scored the first goal in Game 3, but the Kings answered just more than two minutes later and never trailed again. In Game 4, the Coyotes scored a first-period goal and shut out the Kings. In the regular season, the team that scored the first goal won a large percentage of the games, and the Coyotes, in particular, are known as a team that looks stronger when playing with a lead. Asked, independently, today about the importance of the first goal, two veterans — Rob Scuderi and Shane Doan — both used the game word: confidence.
SCUDERI: “I think it’s just a confidence-booster. You’re playing, not defensive, but you’re just kind of waiting and you’re trying to play and do your best and see what happens. When you get that first goal, it’s a little bit of confidence, a little bit of a boost. You feel like your hard work paid off. Usually the team that plays with the lead plays a little more confident. It would be nice if we could get the first one tonight.’’
DOAN: “I think it just calms (teams) down to a certain degree, so they know we’re doing things right, things are going your way. I think confidence is everything in the playoffs, just because everyone is so, so close. With everyone being that close, feeling confident is big.’’
Darryl Sutter alluded to the same thing, and pointed out that the team that takes the lead doesn’t wan to sit back and protect it, but continue to build upon what it is doing correctly.
SUTTER: “It doesn’t matter if it’s playoffs or the regular season. In the NHL, the league is about the first goal, how difficult it is. You know what, when you get veteran coaches and experienced coaching staffs, and teams that played together and are still playing, what they’ve done really well is, not protect the lead but play with leads. That’s why they’re still playing. So it’s important. Neither team are teams that score a lot of goals. They’re close games. So the first goal is important.’’