GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Safe to say, the Phoenix Coyotes look like they've met their match. And they've certainly seen what it's like to play the hottest team in the NHL after a disappointing 4-2 loss to the Los Angeles Kings in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals Sunday at Jobing.com Arena.
The Kings played so well that they probably could have won this game by more than two goals. They've won a club record six straight playoff games and are 6-0 on the road in the playoffs. They're on a roll of rolls, and the Coyotes need to play much better in order to stop it.
"I thought their whole team was better than our team," Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said after watching his team get outshot 48-27. The Kings killed four penalties, won 57 percent of all faceoffs, pressured the Coyotes defensemen for almost the entire game and kept the Coyotes from a lot of puck possession in the Kings' zone.
"The will to get things done is going to have to improve greatly," Tippett said. He spoke in some cliches, but the point was well understood: Play better, or get manhandled by the Kings the way they dominated the Vancouver Canucks and St. Louis Blues earlier in the playoffs.
Mikkel Boedker and Derek Morris scored for the Coyotes, Morris from center ice in the first period. But the Coyotes couldn't seize the momentum.
The Coyotes trail in a playoff series for the first time this postseason, and now winning Game 2 Tuesday night becomes imperative. When the Kings go up 2-0, they close. L.A. had 2-0 leads on both the Canucks and Blues and beat Vancouver 4 games to 1 and swept St. Louis.
All of this from the No. 8 and final seed out of the West. Dustin Brown, the Kings' star left winger, was everything as advertised coming into this series. He recorded his seventh goal of the playoffs -- it gave the Kings a 3-2 lead at 2:11 of the third period -- and proved to be the game winner.
Dwight King, a rookie, scored twice, his last goal an empty net job after a turnover by the Coyotes that left King with an easy target. The goal, with 47 seconds to play, sent the Whiteout home crowd heading for the exits.
The crowd of 17,134 featured a few Kings black jerseys, but Coyotes fans were amped up for the team's first appearance in the conference finals.
The Coyotes, to a man, were disappointed in their slow start. A layoff of seven days not having played was not an excuse the Coyotes used, either.
"It's frustrating," Phoenix's Antoine Vermette said. "They were coming hard with big bodies.
"We're going to face a better team, I think," Vermette added when asked if there's a difference between the Kings and the other teams the Coyotes faced in the playoffs, Nashville and Chicago. "They've been rolling, they've had success and we saw that. It was a tight game. It didn't come out the way we wanted."