Coyotes show wrong kind of fight in Game 2 loss to Kings
I went to a fight and a hockey game broke out!
It's only "nearly" because, honestly, this wasn't much of a hockey game, though there were plenty of fights -- or, at the very least, non-hockey moments.
Facing what had been deemed a "must-win" game by fans, pundits and the players themselves, the Coyotes came out in Tuesday's game playing much better than they did in Sunday's loss, looking like a team that was not going to go away quietly.
Then Dwight King scored at the 13:15 mark in the first period, giving the Kings all the offense they would need, but not all they'd get. More came when Jeff Carter scored twice in the second and once in the third, completing the hat trick and giving the Kings a 2-0 lead as the series moves to Los Angeles.
Sadly, that wasn't even the worst thing to come out of the 4-0 loss.
The game featured 21 penalties -- 13 of which were on the Coyotes -- including game misconducts handed out to Coyotes captain Shane Doan and assistant captain Martin Hanzal for boarding, a well as Antoine Vermette for roughing. Doan hit Trevor Lewis, Hanzal got Dustin Brown, and Vermette and Dustin Penner went at it.
People can understand a team getting beat, it happens. But coming unraveled and taking some cheap shots in the process?
Both players will await word on whether there will be any repercussions from the NHL, and with Brendan Shanahan in charge, odds are good at least one of them will miss Thursday's Game 3, while the rest of the team will try to figure out what went wrong.
"We played hard; it's the playoffs," Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle said after the game. "Guys are playing hard. You have to expect hard games. I thought we played hard and we were battling hard. We just found our way into the penalty box too much."
They found there way to the box by getting frustrated.
Frustrated they were getting beat, again. Frustrated they could not solve Jonathan Quick, again. Frustrated with the officiating. Frustrated that no matter what they were doing, it seems like it's just not good enough.
The Kings are a better team, and now they're in the Coyotes' heads, even if the players say otherwise.
"There were some hits out there that weren't good, but it's one of those things where guys are playing hard," Brown, who was on the receiving end of Hanzal's hit, said. "We capitalized on opportunities we had."
They had plenty of those opportunities, courtesy of the Coyotes and their lack of discipline. In all, the Coyotes played 15:37 of the game short-handed, some of which was even 5-3.
"Any time you spend half the period or more in the penalty box, eventually a team with the skill level they have is going to score," Coyotes goalie Mike Smith said.
Were some of the penalties -- including the one on Doan -- a little shaky? Perhaps, at least Coyotes coach Dave Tippett thinks so. But going back to something Tippett said after Game 1, when the team was dinged by the refs for retaliating to what the Kings were doing, it's up to the players to keep their composure and play through what they may deem to be poor officiating.
The Coyotes didn't do that Tuesday, and it may very well prevent them from moving forward in the postseason. Should their magical run end here, they'll undoubtedly take a long look in the mirror, and chances are good they won't like what they see.
"I don't know whether we're just happy to be here in the conference finals or what it is, but we definitely need to look around at each other," Smith said. "There's a lot of players that aren't going to get many more chances to do this.
"Guys need to look around and know that you might not get another shot like this. It's such an honor to play in the playoffs, especially in the conference finals that when you get here you want to make sure that you give everything you have and that you don't leave anything on the table at the end of the day."
It's been a poor showing from the Coyotes; of that there is no doubt. They're better than this -- in more ways than one -- and still have a chance, slim as it may be, to turn things around.
Should they fail to do so, though, this game will be the one looked at as when it all slipped away. The Coyotes spent much of the night getting shots in on the Kings, whereas the Kings spent their evening getting shots past Mike Smith.
And those are the ones that matter.
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