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Coyotes score early and often on Kings, 6-3

The Kings’ superb defensive play and sharp goaltending had reduced their team goals-against average to microscopic proportions while fueling their aspirations and a four-game winning streak.

The Phoenix Coyotes, young and mistake-prone, had been held to one goal in each of their last four games, three of them losses.

Put them together, and what do you get?

An awful defensive effort by the Kings and a scoring spree for the Coyotes, who romped to a 6-3 victory Wednesday at Jobing.com Arena.

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“It surprised everybody here tonight. We didn’t play,” Kings Coach Terry Murray said. “We just didn’t play in any area of the game.”

The Coyotes scored on four of their 12 shots against Jonathan Quick in the first period and twice more on six shots in the second period before Quick was replaced by Jonathan Bernier. The Kings blew coverage, misread plays and played the puck as if it was a grenade.

Where did that stinker come from?

“I’m not really sure,” Dustin Brown said. “We didn’t give Quickie much help. The first few goals were all back door and tap-ins. We weren’t ready to play, right from the start.”

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The Kings, who return home Thursday to face the Philadelphia Flyers in the finale of four games in five nights, gave up one more goal in the first period than they allowed in their previous four games.

Overall, they gave up as many goals Wednesday as in their previous five games combined.

The Coyotes’ speed has been a problem for the Kings, who lost to them here, 4-2, on Oct. 21. But the Kings felt this wound was self-inflicted.

“They’re a good team and they played well tonight, but I think tonight’s game was more about in here,” defenseman Matt Greene said in the quiet locker room.

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“I think we’ve got to be better. We’ve got to realize what they’re doing with their game plan and be ready for it and tonight we just weren’t there. You give up four goals in the first period, you’re not ready to play the game and that was obvious tonight.”

Their pattern of giving up goals soon after scoring was obvious again too.

After pulling even at 1-1 on a tap-in by Brad Richardson at 7 minutes 39 seconds, the Kings let Phoenix regain the lead at 9:20, when Ray Whitney got behind Jack Johnson to take a slick pass from Keith Yandle. After pulling even at 2-2 at 11:24 on Ryan Smyth’s deflection of a Drew Doughty power-play blast, they let the Coyotes go ahead 52 seconds later on Scottie Upshall’s shot over a sprawling Quick.

“It’s a backbreaker,” Greene said. “You score a goal to get back in the game and you give it right back to them.”

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Phoenix padded its lead to 4-2 at 15:34 on Brett MacLean’s first NHL goal — a redirection deep on the right side — but the Kings cut that to 4-3 when Anze Kopitar’s throw-it-on-net effort caromed off Marco Sturm’s back and past Ilya Bryzgalov at 16:07 of the first period.

They didn’t stay close for long. Shane Doan, going to one knee, scored from long range during a power play at 6:11 of the second period to deflate the Kings.

Kyle Turris’ success on a long, unscreened shot persuaded Murray to bring in Bernier, who stopped 13 shots.

Murray said Bernier will start against the Flyers as planned. Bernier can hope for better support than Quick got Wednesday.

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“I’m moving on here right now. We’ve got another game tomorrow now,” Murray said. “This is a bad one. Those things happen and we’ve just got to put it in the trash can and forget about it.”

helene.elliott@latimes.com

twitter.com/helenenothelen


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