Late goal by Lewis lifts Kings
GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Los Angeles Kings had earned only seven of a possible 18 points within the Pacific Division entering Thursday’s game against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena. It was a point of emphasis from coach Darryl Sutter to his players and the Kings got the message.
Right winger Trevor Lewis knocked in a rebound of Marian Gaborik’s deflection with 4:05 remaining in regulation and the Kings edged the Coyotes 4-3 to pull within two points of first-place San Jose in a tightly packed Pacific.
Jordan Nolan ended a 67-game scoring drought with two goals and Dwight King also scored for Los Angeles, which got 25 saves from Jeff Zatkoff in relief of Peter Budaj for Zatkoff’s first win as a King.
“It definitely wasn’t one of our best games,” Nolan said. “I guess it doesn’t matter how you get the two points as long as you get them.”
Mike Smith made 29 saves for Arizona, which got two goals from Martin Hanzal and one from Tobias Rieder, who had several grade-A chances. Nine of the Coyotes’ last 10 games have been decided by one goal. Arizona is 3-4-3 in those games.
The Kings took a 3-2 lead when Nolan banked a shot from behind the net off Smith’s left pad at 13:41 of the third period, but Rieder tied the game nine seconds later when defenseman Alex Goligoski sprung him on a breakaway, setting up a wild finish.
“He’s a top-notch, excellent 200-foot player,” Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said of Rieder. “We’ve got some guys that should watch him play.”
The Coyotes took advantage of a recent Kings weakness to take an early lead when left winger Max Domi drew a tripping penalty on Los Angeles’ Tyler Toffoli nine seconds into the game. Arizona right winger Radim Vrbata sent a shot toward the net from the half wall and Hanzal deflected it between Budaj’s pads six seconds later.
It was the third consecutive game in which the Kings allowed a goal on their first shot against.
“It’s always great when your power-play unit is doing a good job but we didn’t find a way to win tonight,” Hanzal said of a game in which the teams combined for 11 power plays. “It makes it hard to get into a rhythm when you have that many penalties. Some guys that don’t play special teams just sit on the bench and other guys play a lot so it’s hard on both.”
Los Angeles tied the game at 1-1 when Coyotes center Christian Dvorak tried a drop pass just inside the Kings’ blue line that missed Goligoski. Los Angeles went the other way on a 3-on-2 and Dustin Brown fed King at the far post for an easy tap-in at 12:25 of the first period.
Hanzal scored his second power-play goal of the game at 18:32 of the first period. His soft shot from the left circle appeared to be going wide, but Budaj reached for it with his stick and deflected it into the net. Zatkoff replaced Budaj to start the second period.
Los Angeles tied the game at 10:14 of the second period when Kyle Clifford’s shot deflected off a pair of players and ended up on Nolan’s stick all alone in front of the Coyotes net. Nolan deked Smith to his knees and slipped the puck inside the far post.
“It’s good to see him get rewarded; it’s a load off his back,” Sutter said of Nolan. “He’s done things for our team when he goes in the lineup. He’s fought some battles for us this year.”
NOTES: Coyotes D Oliver Ekman-Larsson was back in the lineup after leaving Wednesday’s game in San Jose after the second period with an upper-body injury. ... The Coyotes activated G Louis Domingue (lower body) off injured reserve and re-assigned G Justin Peters to Tucson of the AHL. ... Kings G Peter Budaj made his 22nd straight appearance. “I think our schedule sets up for one goalie,” said Kings coach Darryl Sutter, whose team plays just three games in the next eight days. ... Kings G Jonathan Quick (groin) and D Brayden McNabb (collarbone) are still sidelined. ... Kings C Andy Andreoff (thumb) could return to the lineup soon, which would necessitate a corresponding roster move, but Sutter said both his injury and a numbers game are keeping him out. ... Coyotes rookie D Jakob Chychrun was back in the lineup. Chychrun was a healthy scratch the past four games. ... Coyotes LW prospect Brendan Perlini was named the AHL’s rookie of the month. Perlini, the Coyotes’ 2014 first-round pick (12th overall) had nine goals and 12 points in nine games.