1-3 is clearly not the way the Phoenix Coyotes envisioned their season starting, especially coming off the most magical season they’ve had since coming to Arizona.
Well, make that record 1-4, after Anze Kopitar and the Los Angeles Kings skated out of Glendale, Ariz., with a 4-2 victory.
Kopitar had two goals – his first two of the season – for the Kings.
It was also Los Angeles’ first win of the season. They came into the game with an 0-2-1 record.
The game was evenly played in the first period, with no one touching the back of the opponents net.
The second period was when things started to unravel for the Coyotes, as they allowed the Kings to score three goals – including the two from Kopitar.
Forward Mikkel Boedker got the lone goal for Phoenix in the period, and on the power play no less. It was just the second power play goal the Coyotes have had at home this season.
Phoenix came out on fire in the third period and came to within one goal, as Shane Doan got his second goal of the season just :22 into the period.
However, the Kings would nail the coffin shut with defenseman Jake Muzzin’s goal at 8:35 of the period.
There were two Coyote goals that were waived off by the officials – one because of a goalie interference call on forward David Moss, the second one, an iffy call by the referees saying Kings goalie Jonathan Quick had possession of the puck on one of the Coyotes final rushes, when it was clear on instant replay that he didn’t.
“That’s the breaks we’re getting right now and we’ve got to overcome it,” head coach Dave Tippett said. “Adversity is hitting us right in the face and we can either let it beat us up, or get after it.”
“We’ve got to pound away, that’s the only thing we can do,” Tippett said.
The goaltending and defense – so solid last year – hasn’t been as reliable so far through the first five games.
The Coyotes have given up 20 goals so far this season. Do the math and that equals out to four goals given up per game.
Captain Shane Doan made it quite plain: the way to fix things right now is to stop the opposition from scoring goals.
“We’re giving up too many goals, but we’ve scored enough to win,” Doan said.
Doan was also quick to point out other flaws in the team that need to be addressed, and addressed quickly.
“We haven’t been good enough, the power play hasn’t been great [6-for-25 this season], the penalty killing hasn’t been great [five goals given up in 23 chances], we’re just average,” Doan said. “We have to find ways to be better in every single area, [and] it starts in shutting down our own zone.”
Goalie Jason LaBarbera got his second straight start, as goalie Mike Smith is still dealing with a lower body injury and is day-to-day.
LaBarbera played very well against Los Angeles, stopping 27 shots.
It’s the four that got past him that were the problem.
“Not a great 60 minute effort by all of us,” LaBarbera said. “My job is to make saves, [and] if I make one or two more saves, we’re probably not sitting here talking about it.”
Things aren’t good in the early going for the Coyotes, but LaBarbera knows this team is capable of turning things around.
“We have the guys in here to do it,” LaBarbera said. “We have a good team, it’s just a matter of putting it together and getting on the same page.”