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King's hat trick leads Kings past Coyotes

The SportsXchange

LOS ANGELES -- With the Los Angeles Kings struggling to score through the season's first 10 games, coach Darryl Sutter resorted to shuffling his lineup for Thursday night's matchup against the Phoenix Coyotes.

His moves paid off as Los Angeles registered its highest goal total since 2010. Kings left winger Dwight King scored a hat trick, and Los Angeles staved off a furious Phoenix comeback to win 7-4 at Staples Center.

The Kings led 4-0 after the first period, but the Coyotes battled back with two goals in the second and two early in the third to tie the game.

Los Angeles (7-4-0) regained the lead for good on Mike Richards' short-handed goal at 4:19 of the third, then scored twice more to put the game away.

Center Anze Kopitar gave the Kings a quick lead when he scored his first goal of the season on the power play just 42 seconds into the game. Kopitar pounced on a loose puck in the left faceoff circle and beat Phoenix goaltender Mike Smith with a wrist shot.

King doubled the Los Angeles lead at 4:17 of the first period with his second goal of the season, beating Smith to the left side from 25 feet.

Jordan Nolan scored at 10:14, and King's second of the goal night gave Los Angeles a four-goal margin at 17:56 of the first period. King tipped in the puck when the Phoenix defense left him unchecked to the right of Smith.

The Los Angeles barrage ended Smith's night after 20 minutes. Thomas Greiss replaced Smith, who surrendered four goals on 15 shots. It was the first time the Kings scored four goals in a period since March 5, 2013, against the St. Louis Blues.

The Coyotes (6-3-2) halved the margin in the middle period on the strength of goals by Jeff Halpern and Martin Hanzal. Halpern's goal was his first in a Phoenix uniform. Hanzal's bad-angle goal trickled through the pads of Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick and set the stage for Phoenix's four-goal comeback.

Phoenix closed to within one when Hanzal deflected defenseman Keith Yandle's shot for his second goal of the night on the power play at 1:51 of the third period. The Coyotes completed their comeback 59 seconds later when Shane Doan's harmless shot from the point eluded Quick to tie the score at 4 with 17:10 remaining.

"We got back in the second and took over in the second half of the second period and then we fell short," Doan said. "It's handling success as a group. We know we are a good team, we know that we can win games, and once we start winning games, we need to keep playing the exact same way."

After tying the score, the Coyotes stalled.

"We went out and we took a penalty the first shift," Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. "In the offensive zone, they scored, they got momentum and they ran with it and put us behind the 8-ball. We crawled back into it, and then we gave it away again."

Los Angeles regained the lead for good on Richards' unassisted goal. He beat Griess with a backhand shot after a turnover by Phoenix defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson in the neutral zone.

"It was up and down tonight, but that's the challenge for us, it always has been," Kopitar said. "We always have good spurts, and tonight the first period was obviously a really good one, but we have to maintain that."

King added an empty-net goal at 19:38 to complete his first career three-goal game.

"He's been pretty good the whole time," Sutter said. "He goes about his business every night. He doesn't stand out, but as I said, it's good to see him get rewarded for goals. He's our most solid left winger night in and night out."

Quick made 24 saves to earn the win. Greiss stopped 11 of the 15 shots he faced.

NOTES: Los Angeles has not lost a man game to injury through 11 games. ... The Kings' dry spell at the center position ended with Kopitar's opening goal. The combination of Kopitar, Richards, C Jarret Stoll and C Colin Fraser failed to register a goal through the team's first 10 games. ... Doan returned to the lineup after missing Tuesday's game the Calgary Flames with a lower-body injury. ... Phoenix is off to its best start since 2000-01, when it began the season 7-1-2. ... Smith was pulled for the second time this season. The first time was Oct. 8 against the New York Islanders, when he yielded five goals on 20 shots in 40 minutes.
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