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The Los Angeles Kings look virtually unstoppable right now in the NHL’s Western Conference playoffs and L.A. can take a commanding 2-0 series lead with a victory tonight at Phoenix. And the Kings are -130 favorites on WagerWeb.com.
L.A., the No. 8 seed in the West, won the opener of the series 4-2 on Sunday. With a week off after sweeping St. Louis in the second round, the Kings were far from rusty, dominating the Coyotes early. Los Angeles controlled the puck for long stretches of the first period to set up Anze Kopitar’s goal 4 minutes in on the way to their sixth straight victory.
Phoenix rallied to tie twice, the first one on a shot by Derek Morris that surprised Kings goalie Quick from the red line, but the Kings kept coming. Dustin Brown had a goal and an assist, Dwight King had his first career two-goal game and Los Angeles outshot Phoenix 48-27.
Coyotes goalie Mike Smith did his part with 44 saves, but it would be hard to find anyone else on the team that earned a passing grade on Sunday. For a team that needs everyone rowing in the same direction to get anywhere, the Coyotes were dead in the water in Game 1.
Top defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson was a minus-3 in a game for the first time since Dec. 14 at Anaheim, and partner Rostislav Klesla also had his poorest game of the postseason. David Schlemko struggled in his 11 minutes on the ice and could be the odd-man out if veteran Adrian Aucoin is able to play Tuesday night in Game 2. Outside of a wild center-ice slap shot goal from Derek Morris in the first period, a Phoenix blue line that contributed 23 points and was a plus-15 combined in the first two rounds had no impact up the ice.
The Coyotes were one of the worst teams in the NHL during the season on the power play and it’s been more of the same in the playoffs, with the Coyotes going 5-for-36 (13.9 percent) overall. They are now scoreless in their last 16 tries after going 0-for-5 in Sunday’s loss. But even more alarming, with the man-advantage for seven minutes and 36 seconds, the Coyotes put only five shots on Quick and had no more luck establishing possession in the Kings’ zone than its 5-on-5 brethren.
Los Angeles is 9-1 in the playoffs and is allowing a NHL-low 1.60 goals per game because of Quick, but also because of the balance it has on the blue line with Drew Doughty, Rob Scuderi, Willie Mitchell, Slava Voynov, Alec Martinez and Greene.
The Kings have successfully killed 24 straight power plays dating back to the first round. They were 17-for-17 against the Blues and then that 5-for-5 in Game 1.