GLENDALE, Ariz. — Which development concerns you more: Louis Domingue’s sudden penchant for soft goals or the Coyotes’ inability to kill opponents’ penalties?
The two are directly related in coach Dave Tippett’s eyes.
“Our save percentage on the PK is way below what it should be,” Tippett said. “Can we do a better job killing penalties, getting pucks down the ice and winning faceoffs? Sure we can. But with your penalty killing, you need saves. That’s just the bottom line and all three of our goaltenders, if you look at the stats that I look at, are way below.”
Arizona’s penalty killing unit entered the game ranked 28th in the NHL at 76.6 percent. That number dropped to 75.9 after Los Angeles scored three power play goals on seven chances in a 6-2 win on Tuesday at Gila River Arena.
For the second straight game, Domingue allowed five goals on 25 shots and for the second straight game he also allowed a goal from the red line, this one off the stick of public enemy No. 1 Dustin Brown.
The goal was pivotal in the Coyotes’ fortunes. So was the second of three Kings power-play goals.
“I felt like my glove hand was pretty awful tonight,” Domingue said. “I’ve got to have a better focus coming into these games.”
Arizona actually held a 2-1 lead on Anthony Duclair’s whirling second-period goal and looked like it might close the season series at 4-0-1 against the Kings.
With Tobias Rieder off for a very soft high-sticking penalty, however, Kings defenseman Alec Martinez beat Domingue to the short side through a Jeff Carter screen to tie the game. It was the second short-side goal Domingue allowed.
“The first two should be stopped,” said Tippett, who later said four of the six goals were stoppable. “Those should never go in short side. You’ve got the defenseman taking wide side away so you’re basically taking half the net away. Even though there’s a screen, those should be stopped pucks.”
After the tying goal, a bad break turned the tide irreversibly in L.A.’s favor.
Coyotes defenseman Kevin Connauton had the puck at the L.A. blue line as he prepared to shoot, but his stick broke, creating a 2-on-1 the other way. Marian Gaborik buried a terrific high shot and the Kings had a 3-2 lead late in the second period.
Arizona might have survived that if Domingue hadn’t been thoroughly out of position at the right post as Brown bounced a shot in from the center-ice faceoff circle. Instead, the puck skipped over Domingue’s left pad and L.A. had a 4-2 lead 12 seconds after Gaborik’s goal.
Domingue also allowed Winnipeg’s Dustin Byfuglien to score from the red line in the last game before the All-Star break.
“You can’t get scored on from there,” Domingue said. “You’ve got to find a way to stop it.”
Brown added a poor-angle goal early in the third period to chase Domingue, and Vincent Lecavalier added another power play goal.
The loss, coupled with Anaheim’s win, dropped the Coyotes into fourth place in the Pacific Division and out of playoff position.
“This one was a good lesson for us,” Tippett said “L.A. looks like a team coming out of the break that’s gearing up for a stretch drive.
“That was a lesson in special teams, a lesson in puck battles and a lesson in commitment to getting things done. There’s lots to earn from that game.”
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