GLENDALE, Ariz. — If the other three lines had brought as much to the table as the fourth line did on Tuesday, the Coyotes might be looking at their first four-game winning streak of the season.
The Jordan Martinook-Ryan White-Lawson Crouse combination accounted for both of Arizona’s goals and four points overall in a 3-2 loss to the Los Angeles Kings at Gila River Arena that snapped the Coyotes’ season-long three-game winning streak.
It was the third straight game in which the fourth line has notched a goal, and coach Dave Tippett had a simple explanation.
“They work,” Tippett said. “They compete. They’re in people’s face. They hunt down loose pucks. When the puck goes to the net they go after it. All of the above.”
For good portions of Tuesday’s game, the fourth line drew the assignment of facing the Kings line of Jeff Carter, Kyle Clifford and Tanner Pearson, which has been the Kings’ most productive group this season. Martinook, Crouse and White all finished plus-1 in the game.
“We’re just three guys that work hard and luckily we’ve been getting rewarded lately,” said Martinook, who scored off a rebound at 8:48 of the first period to give the Coyotes a 1-0 lead. “It’s easy to play with guys when you know where they’re going to be.
“I feel like Crouser has got a lot of my game tendencies in him so I know what he’s going to do and Whitey just goes out and works hard and does his job every time. It’s good to be a working line.”
White had the other goal for Arizona and Crouse had two assists, giving him points in back-to-back games for the first time this season.
The Kings outshot the Coyotes 40-to-31 and Tippett admitted his team defended too much. In that light, it’s hard to say the Coyotes deserved a better fate, but Arizona had to kill two penalties in the final eight minutes — a slashing penalty on Martinook and a tripping call on Martin Hanzal — and neither one of them looked warranted.
“We knew were going to have come out of the break and push hard and we did,” Tippett said. “It’s too bad that a couple of soft calls like that impact the outcome of the game.”
The Coyotes had a chance to clear the puck out of their zone before Jake Muzzin’s game-winning goal on the second power play, but Alex Goligoski only had a narrow lane to clear the puck up the middle and Drew Doughty was waiting to intercept it and keep it in the zone.
Jeff Carter feathered a perfect feed to Muzzin in front and he buried it with 1:49 remaining to push L.A. back into playoff position as the Western Conference’s top wild card team with the Kings’ third straight win.
“We didn’t really agree with the call,” White said of the penalty, “but I think it was a little bit more of a momentum call at that point. They were coming at us pretty good. Maybe that’s another lesson to be had for our group that we’ve got to find a way to push back there in the third and not let that momentum build.”