Six months ago today, the Phoenix Coyotes hosted the Los Angeles Kings at Jobing.com arena for a regular season game. The Coyotes entered the night 7-0-1 in their previous eight games including a 1-0 win in Los Angeles five days before. Both teams were squarely on the playoff bubble with seven weeks remaining in the season. Both teams were looking to get off to a fast start; one of them certainly did.
The Kings dominated the first period. Drew Doughty opened up the scoring just over six minutes into the game. Six minutes later, rookie Andrei Loktionov made the game 2-0 Los Angeles. Kings captain Dustin Brown would tip a puck past Mike Smith just two minutes later to make the game 3-0 Kings. After the first, it looked as if the Coyotes would finally lose a regulation game in February.
A glimmer of hope appeared when just 50 seconds into the second period, Radim Vrbata scored a power play goal to cut the Los Angeles lead to two. A few minutes later, Captain Coyote, Shane Doan, scored a power play goal to made the score 3-2. Hope was starting to build on the Coyotes bench and in Jobing.com Arena. That hope was quickly extinguished when Justin Williams of the Kings would score their fourth goal, this time on the power play to make it 4-2 Kings. That hope was reignited a little over five minutes later when Doan scored his second goal of the night. The Coyotes entered the second intermission only down 4-3.
The first 13:46 of the third period saw no scoring. At 13:47 of the third period, Kings forward Kyle Clifford would receive a match penalty for an illegal hit to the head of Coyotes forward Gilbert Brule. A match penalty results in a five minute on ice penalty for the team and an ejection of the offending player. In the ensuing scrum, Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle would receive a minor penalty for roughing. In two minutes the Coyotes would have a three minute power play. With just 1:14 left in the power play and 2:27 left in the game, Vrbata tied the score at four with a power play goal. After being down three goals after the first period, the Coyotes out scored Los Angeles 4-1 (including three power play goals) the rest of the way.
Both teams were awarded one point and overtime came and went without a goal. The Coyotes would shoot first in the shootout and Ray Whitney gave the Coyotes a 1-0 lead. The next two shooters would miss before Dustin Brown would tie the score 1-1 after two rounds. Mikkel Boedker would score in the third giving the Coyotes the lead. Jack Johnson was the last shooter for the Kings and he had to score to force another round. Johnson failed to score and the Coyotes came all the way back to win. It was a magical night in the magical month of February for the Coyotes.
The Coyotes would win the final three games of February ending the month 11-0-1. Mike Smith would end the month with an 11 game winning streak.
NOTE: The next installment of “A Look Back” will be Thursday, Aug. 23.