After falling 4-2 in a lopsided Game 1, outshot by nearly a 2-1 margin, Phoenix Coyotes coach Dave Tippett was direct about what changes had to be made for a better outcome in Game 2: "Adjustments all over the board," he told the Arizona Republic.
He made them. It didn't work.
For the second straight game -- or maybe the 11th straight game, depending on how far back you want to go -- the Kings looked like an unstoppable juggernaut, once again outshooting the Coyotes by nearly a 2-1 margin and dropping 4 goals on Mike Smith in a 4-0 Game 2 shellacking.
It should be clear by now that the Kings are the eighth seed in name only. (Consider: the phrase unstoppable juggernaut, used above, isn't typically bestowed on eighth seeds.) L.A. is 10-1 this postseason. It just picked up its seventh consecutive road win, tied for the NHL postseason record. In two games versus the Coyotes, the Kings have peppered Mike Smith with 88 shots, scoring eight times.
The Coyotes were overmatched from beginning to end in Game 2. Outshot 15 to 8 in the first period, the Kings opened the scoring by simply wearing them down. Dwight King put the Kings on the board at 13:15 on a redirect of a Drew Doughty point shot.
In the second period, the Kings came out even harder, outshooting the Coyotes 17-8 and doubling their lead on a goal from Jeff Carter. (That totally rhymed, you guys!) The goal came after some great work by Dustin Penner, who gained the zone, and outworked his man down low before tipping the puck to his linemate.
That was enough for the Coyotes to become disagreeable.
In a scary sign heading into Game 3, the league's most disciplined, structured team became an unfocused, undisciplined mess from that moment forward.
The Coyotes lost their composure, and the rest of the contest was a penalty-filled affair, with 74 penalty minutes handed out in the game's final half -- 15 apiece to both Shane Doan and Martin Hanzal, who were given majors and game misconducts on dirty hits that could see supplemental discipline. Mike Smith dove. Derek Morris hung a knee. Antoine Vermette took a misconduct. Genghis Khan flipped the pool and lit it on fire.
The Kings scored two power-play goals during this span, both by Jeff Carter, who records the first hat trick in Kings' history since Wayne Gretzky scored three on May 29, 1993.
The Coyotes now fly to Los Angeles beaten, embarrassed, and fighting for their playoff lives. Trailing the series 2-0, they're forced to do something no other team has managed to do this postseason: win Game 3 in the Staples Center to avoid the 0-3 hole. They'll have to up their physicality while upping their composure, return to their structure, and find some of the confidence they've clearly misplaced in two straight drubbings.
Worse, they'll likely have to do all of this without one of Hanzal or Doan, and maybe both.
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