Face it, Phoenix Coyotes fans, if not for Derek Morris and his wonder-shot from near the middle of the ice that somehow eluded Jonathan Quick in the Los Angeles Kings' net, the Kings would be leading Game 1 of the NHL Western Conference finals after one period of play.
In fact, the Coyotes are lucky to be tied in a game that has seen them outshot 16-4 by the Kings, the West's No. 8 seed brimming with confidence .
The Kings set the tone early, peppering the Coyotes' Mike Smith with shots and attacking the Phoenix zone in waves. Less than four minutes into the game, center Anze Kopitar controlled a bouncing puck and slipped a backhand shot past Smith to give the Kings a 1-0 lead.
The shot rose above Smith's glove hand. But Smith turned back into Superman moments later when he managed to lunge all the way across his body with more than half the net open for a shot by Jeff Carter that was stopped.
The Kings took the game's first eight shots before the Coyotes were credited with their first. Dustin Brown, perhaps the best non-goaltender on the ice in this year's playoffs, put plenty of pressure on the Coyotes defense in the period.
Morris' goal seemed to come out of nowhere. He took a pass, wound up and fired from center ice and beat Quick at 13:26 of the period.
The Coyotes will open the second period with 1:42 left on a power play, hoping to take advantage. The Kings have clearly been the better team thus far in the first game of the Wayne Gretzky Cup.
PS -- A smattering of empty seats at Jobing.com Arena. It's the conference finals people! Tsk, tsk. Still, the atmosphere has been wild.