GLENDALE — The first time the Phoenix Coyotes played the Los Angeles Kings since the last time they played the Los Angeles Kings was just like the last time they played the Los Angeles Kings.
A loss, complete with some shaky goaltending and frustrating officiating.
At least the 4-2 defeat Saturday came in a regular season game and not the Western Conference Finals.
But the Coyotes, who are now 1-4 with just two points on the season, are just not good enough to beat a team like the Kings when the breaks don’t go there way.
They weren’t in the playoffs, and they certainly aren’t right now. The more things change…
“It’s a huge, disappointing loss,” captain Shane Doan said after the game. “The fact that we didn’t play well enough to make a difference in that game.”
Indeed, the Coyotes struggled.
As has been par for the course this season, the offense was inconsistent, the defense was not good, and the goaltending was not great enough to carry the team.
However, on a basic level, the difference in this game may have been a pair of goals the Coyotes scored that will not show up in the box score.
Late in the second period Doug Moss redirected the puck past a tumbling Jonathan Quick. The officials waved the goal off due to goaltender interference, though replays showed the call to be wrong.
And then, with under a minute remaining, Radim Vrbata’s goal was waived off due to the refs blowing a quick whistle on a sequence when Quick never actually corralled the puck.
Granted, it’s not as simple as saying had the refs gotten the respective calls right the game would have been tied at the end of regulation. The course of the game would have changed, and based on the “butterfly effect”, we could have seen a tie game, a Coyotes win, the same result or maybe an alien invasion at Jobing.com Arena. We just don’t know.
But still, two goals is two goals, and the reeling Coyotes could have used a break or two Saturday night. Or, you know, those goals.
“Contact with the goaltender, contact with the goaltender there, which is — hey, I’m not going to comment on those,” Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said, before sort of commenting on the rough calls. “Then that one at the end of the game too, Quick didn’t have that puck either.”
No, he did not.
Unfortunately for the Coyotes, while the officials may realize the error of their ways when watching the film from this one, what’s done is done. In a season that is shorter than normal, it’s imperative not to waste opportunities to pick up points.
And be it bad luck, bad officiating or bad play, something is going to have to change for the team, and the sooner the better.
“That’s the breaks we’re getting right now; we’ve got to overcome it,” Tippett said. “Adversity is hitting us right in the face and we can either let it beat us up or we can get after it, and that’s what we’ll do [Sunday] in practice.”