The Phoenix Coyotes went into enemy territory Tuesday night dragging a three-game losing streak and a 185-minute scoring drought with them.
Despite the extra baggage, the ‘Yotes outplayed and nearly toppled the Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings, only to fall by the score of 3-2 at Staples Center.
Captain Shane Doan scored two goals, took 11 shots and dished out 13 hits in a Herculean effort against the Kings. But he was also taken out on a knee-to-knee hit by Los Angeles rookie defenseman Jake Muzzin in the second period. No penalty was called on the play, although Doan wasn’t very pleased with it.
Phoenix head coach Dave Tippett joined Burns and Gambo Wednesday on Arizona Sports 620 Wednesday and shared his thoughts on the play.
“I don’t think there was malicious intent by Muzzin,” Tippett said. “He comes across, they were both tracking the puck and he’s a big, tall guy who has a wide stance and they kind of collided knees there.
“I don’t think it was malicious on his part, but that being said, any time you stick your knee out, you’re going to be vulnerable to that and I don’t think Shane liked that very much.”
Asked if there was possibly a carry over from Kings captain Dustin Brown’s hit on Michal Rozsival of the Coyotes in last year’s Western Conference Finals, Tippett contrasted the two.
“Well I think there was malicious intent on Brown’s hit and that’s the difference in the two hits,” he said.
Last year’s playoff series that saw LA win in five games was a chippy affair, and could have been the birth of a long, hotly-contested rivalry, according to Tippett.
“When you go through playoff series, that’s where rivalries start and you start to build up a little animosity for each other,” he said. “It leads to some very good hockey.”
The Kings have won three of the first four meetings between the teams this year. The final matchup unfolds April 2 at Jobing.com Arena in Glendale.