FINAL – Kings 2, Coyotes 3 – Doughty, Vilardi, McLellan

The LA Kings fell for the third straight game, as they were unable to overcome their second period in 3-2 defeat against the Arizona Coyotes on home ice.

The first period was scoreless, and was one in which the Kings seemed to have a lot of jump, leading in most analytical categories, but were unable to convert. The second period, however, began a power-play goal bonanza, which put the Kings in a hole.

Arizona got the scoring started, through Clayton Keller, before Drew Doughty became the NHL’s first defenseman with four power-play goals this season, with a one-timer to tie the game at one. The Coyotes then got a pair of goals in a span of just 13 seconds, with Nick Schmaltz scoring on the PP, before Johan Larsson was the beneficiary of a broken breakout attempt by Olli Maatta and Michael Amadio. The result was a 3-1 Arizona lead through 40 minutes.

The Kings battled back with an 18-4 lead in shots on goal, and a 26-6 Corsi advantage, in the third period, but could only pull one goal closer, Gabriel Vilardi’s redirect with just over six minutes to play. The Kings had their looks, including what was nearly a highlight-reel tally from Andreas Athanasiou, but couldn’t pull two back over the 20 minutes they had left.

Hear from Drew Doughty, Vilardi and Todd McLellan from after tonight’s game.

Drew Doughty

Gabriel Vilardi

On the feeling on the bench after two goals against in 13 seconds in the second period
On the bench, it’s tough. You just get out there, and right away they score another one, so it’s a double-blow. It sucks, but we outshot them, I thought we played pretty well honestly. Obviously, there’s still a lot of things we can clean up, and we’ll see that tomorrow, probably, in video, but this one kind of sucks, honestly.

On the way the team played 5-on-5 in the first and third periods
I thought we didn’t play too badly. If you look at the shots, it was like wow, we were all over them, and then there’s that 13-second span, that goal ends up killing us. Overall, I thought we played pretty well, but we’ve got to find ways to score goals here, you can’t expect to win every game scoring two goals. Quickie and Cal, they’re both unreal, but we’ve got to score goals and find a way to score more goals. It can’t just come from Kopi’s line, I’m speaking about my line in general, we’ve got to find a way to score goals out here. There’s a lot more we can do I think.

On Andreas Athanasiou’s skill move, and near goal, in the third
Yeah, that’s exactly what it is. He’s a guy who can skate fast, he can shoot the puck well, underrated passing ability too. He has really good hands, it was a great move by him, it’s too bad he didn’t finish it off, but yeah it was pretty cool, you don’t see that too often. That’s something he’s got for sure.

Todd McLellan

On if tonight’s result was due more to Raanta’s performance, or the Kings’ play in the second period
It’s a good question. First of all, you’ve got to tip your hat to their goaltender, he played well, but we also made him look well sometimes. Our second-period performance wasn’t very good, in fact, we weren’t real sharp for a lot of the night. If you think of the opportunities they had, even before they scored the first goal, coming off of our tape, opportunities to move the puck out of our zone, advance it even 10 or 15 feet and get the momentum going the other way, we were just slow again with pucks. We spent the last two days in practice trying to pick the pace up with puck movement, and coming out clean, and it bit us again tonight.

On the team’s penalty kill tonight
Obviously, our penalty kill let us down tonight. We made two critical mistakes and they capitalized on the mistakes that we saw last year in our penalty kill. We think we’ve corrected them and they creep back in, so we’ve got work to do there. Our inability to get clears was something we were really disappointed in. We couldn’t get fresh bodies out because we didn’t get the puck all the way down. We won faceoffs, they kept pucks alive when it’s coming off of our tape, so our overall quarterback rating would be very poor tonight. Whether it’s the passing part of it, or just the clearing part, just to a man we were poor.

On the team’s resilience in fighting back, with an 18-4 SOG advantage in the third
I think it’s in the DNA of this team, prior to me even getting here. The five veterans who won Stanley Cups, they have that in them. It just sprinkles and spreads through and it makes our job as coaches much easier when you have those types of people with that quality already in them. Every time somebody asks me that question, there’s the other side of the equation. 3-0 Minnesota, 3-0 Minnesota, 3-1 Arizona. It’s great that we have that trait of crawling back and playing hard, but why are we getting to three on the wrong end of the stick so quick? We’ve got to figure that part out.

Notes –

– With his power-play goal tonight, Drew Doughty now leads all NHL defensemen with 4 PPG’s on the season and is tied for second with 11 power-play points.
– Anze Kopitar and Adrian Kempe each collected an assist tonight, giving them helpers in consecutive games. Kopitar now has eight assists over his last nine games.
– Kopitar reached 20 assists on the season tonight, in his 21st game played, the fastest he’s ever hit that marker in his NHL career.
– Forward Gabriel Vilardi scored his sixth goal of the season, second-most amongst Kings forwards and tied for the second-most goals this season by an NHL rookie. He has six points (3-3-6) over his last eight games.
– Arizona goaltender Antti Raanta improved to 6-0-1 in his career against the Kings, with a .957 save percentage from seven career regular-season appearances. His 40 saves also tied a season-high.
– The Kings entered tonight’s action at 8-0-2 this season when either tied or leading after the first period, losing for the first time in regulation in that scenario.

The LA Kings are scheduled to return to the ice tomorrow, for an 11 AM practice at Toyota Sports Performance Center.

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