Phoenix Coyotes 1, Los Angeles Kings 2 (LA leads the series, 3-0)
Those Who Shined
29 straight, none allowed in last 7 games — 2 series
1. The Los Angeles Penalty Killing Unit
Although this unit wasn’t terribly busy Thursday night — they successfully killed the one power play chance the Coyotes received –, they are more than worthy of a spot in this discussion due to their unmatched effort in the postseason. The Los Angeles penalty killing unit has gone 29 straight penalties without allowing a power play tally, which is a streak that dates back to April 22nd against the Vancouver Canucks. Therefore, the Kings haven’t been beaten in these situations in their last two postseason series — a statistic that is unimaginably good. And, they aren’t just good on the defensive end of the ice while on the penalty kill. Los Angeles has scored four short-handed goals in their 12 playoff games and as the broadcast team mentioned last night, some of their best looks on net all night came when they were a man down. It’s tough to beat a team when they’re this good, this often.
2. Jonathan Quick AND Mike Smith
Look, only one guy could pick up the win — yet again it was Mr. Quick –, but both of these netminders played fantastic hockey Thursday night. Jonathan Quick speaks for himself night in and night out. He has now won 11 of 12 postseason starts and his goals against average somehow dropped even lower to 1.41. The Coyotes threw 19 shots at the net, but were only able to capitalize on one goal scoring opportunity. His counterpart, Mike Smith, took home a third consecutive losing effort, even though his performance was stellar overall. Smith set aside 26 of the 28 shots that he faced and helped Phoenix kill all five LA power play chances on the night. He allowed two goals, but one came on a breakaway given to one of the league’s most dangerous scorers, Anze Kopitar; and the other came in a third period that was a statistical slaughter in favor of the Kings. I tip my cap to both these guys. That was the kind of goalie battle all NHL fans wanted to see.
3. Dwight King, Left Wing, Los Angeles Kings
It’s fitting, right? Mr. King puts home the game-winning tally for the Kings to give his club the suffocating three-game advantage in the series. The third line attacker picked up just five goals and 14 points in the regular season, but he has emerged as a deep pain in the Coyotes playoff hopes over the last three games. King has scored four goals on just six shots on net and has put together a rating of plus four, which is higher than his rating from the previous 27 regular season games combined. The work by himself and the rest of his teammates that aren’t named Dustin Brown or Anze Kopitar, highlight why Los Angeles is so difficult to beat right now. They are all scoring and defending at a level that is unstoppable from an opponents standpoint.