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Coyotes show wrong kind of fight in Game 2 loss to Kings

The old joke nearly rang true Tuesday night in Glendale.

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?

That’s unacceptable.

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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