The Phoenix Coyotes (19-17-5) concluded a four-game road trip Thursday against the Los Angeles Kings (20-14-7). After a disappointing 4-1 loss Tuesday in St. Louis the Coyotes needed a good bounce back game against their Pacific Division rival to stay in the playoff picture.
Solid goaltending can take you a long way in the NHL; just ask the Kings. While their offensive woes have continued (the Kings rank last in the NHL in goals per game with 2.1) under new coach Darryl Sutter, the Kings have managed posted a 5-0-3 record under Sutter riding the play of their goaltender Jonathan Quick.
After Thursdays win Quick has a 6-0-2 in his last eight games. He stopped 22 shots against the Coyotes and got his 20th career shutout.
Mike Smith played to the level that Coyote fans became accustomed to before the groin injury that sidelined him for six games. The Coyote goaltender was peppered with shots and stopped multiple scoring chances before letting one, literally, slide by him in overtime.
The only goal of the night came when Drew Doughty drove hard to the crease and managed to throw the puck on net before causing a pileup. After a few bounces the puck snuck in past Smith to the delight of the Staples Center crowd. The goal was reviewed due to the net being off its moorings slightly but after review the officials concluded that the puck fully crossed the line before the net was knocked off.
Kyle Chipchura, who at one point was the Coyotes fourth line center, saw come playing time was the first line tonight due to injuries. Chipchura played well centering the line with Ray Whitney and Radim Vrbata. He would end the game with a season high 16:52 of ice time and threw his body around registering six hits.
The Coyotes have not been good lately, thats obvious. However, they have not been healthy either. Martin Hanzal and Boyd Gordon continue to sit with injuries and Raffi Torres has been out of the lineup due to a two-game suspension that expired after Thursday's game. David Rundblad, the player the Coyotes acquired in the Kyle Turris deal, has not taken the ice in a Coyote sweater yet as well.
After a December where the team went 6-9-1, January does not look like a promising month for the Yotes' either. The Coyotes know that they need a good stretch of games before the all-star break to stay in the playoff hunt, so hopefully the roster will return to full strength soon and desperation of missing the post-season will kick in.
The Coyotes will return home to Jobing.com arena Saturday to face the New York Islanders. Puck drops at 6 p.m. Arizona time and the game can be seen on Fox Sports Arizona.