Kings are jammed up as Coyotes win, 2-0, to extend series

First, the feared traffic nightmare didn't materialize Sunday, when cycling and hockey fans minded their transit rules in the morning. Then another doomsday scenario was averted when the Coyotes and goalie Mike Smith cooperated by shutting out the Kings.

Result No. 1: Traffic flowed on the road and at Staples Center. The hockey game ended in regulation, meaning the NBA playoff game between the Clippers and Spurs could start on time.

Result No. 2: The road it is for the Kings. Phoenix defeated them, 2-0, on Sunday in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals as captain Shane Doan scored twice, sending the series back to Arizona. It was the Kings' first loss in more than a month, ending an eight-game playoff winning streak.

Game 5 will be Tuesday in Glendale, Ariz. The Kings are 7-0 in road games in the playoffs.

The Coyotes' win Sunday also meant the Clarence Campbell Bowl — given to the Western Conference playoff champion — was whisked off by its handlers into the night. OK, the afternoon.

And so, the trophy almost no player wants to touch because of superstition remained untouched by NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly, who was in the house in case he had to award it.

The Kings lead the best-of-seven series, 3-1, and the Coyotes have a long haul ahead, attempting to become the fourth team in NHL history to win a playoff series after trailing three games to none.

They took the first step by continually frustrating the Kings with a strong forecheck, flawless penalty killing and Smith. Smith, who faced 36 shots, recorded his third shutout in these playoffs.

"I don't know if we like adversity, but we've had to deal with it an awful lot this season," Smith said. "I think it's made us stronger as a team.

"Tonight, we had nothing to lose. We had to make sure we played our best game. That would give us a chance to win. We obviously had a huge game from Doan. It trickled down through our lineup. He was unbelievable."

The Kings' frustration carried over to the postgame news conference. Kings Coach Darryl Sutter was annoyed at having to wait so long to speak, his patience wearing thin while Phoenix Coach Dave Tippett and Doan and Smith answered questions.

Sutter started and ended his session by complaining about the delay. Once he turned his attention to the game, he delivered some pointed and pertinent critiques. "I think we had some guys [who] had trouble adjusting to the pace of how they played," Sutter said.

He broke down the play leading to Doan's first goal, which was late in the first period on the power play, calling it "a soft play out of the corner." Indeed, Doan was able to emerge from the right corner and proceed unscathed to the front of the net, beating Kings goalie Jonathan Quick with a backhander.

And there went the Kings' streak of killing off 30 consecutive penalties, going back to Game 5 of the first-round series against Vancouver. Phoenix got the power play on a borderline call against the Kings' Justin Williams for interference with Smith.

"I was obviously not trying to interfere with him," Williams said. "As I said, it certainly wasn't the difference."

Some associated with the Kings took note of the calls and the possible impact of what the Coyotes' Tippett had to say after Game 3. Tippett had spoken Thursday about perceived "embellishment" by the Kings to draw penalties, though he said his comments were not "geared toward" Thursday's Game 3.

Kings left wing Dustin Brown didn't think there was a reaction by the referees to Tippett's remarks, however.

"I think the refs, they get graded and do all that sort of thing this time of year and get whittled down to who is going to play in the final," Brown said. "What a coach says in a media conference I don't think the refs really probably follow too much.

"It's one of those things. When one team gets more power plays . . . that's how it's been in this league forever. Even in the regular season, you see coaches complaining about refs after games when they don't have as many power plays."

Earlier, Brown had talked about hitting the reset button and refocusing. But he had to stop short and chuckle when the man sitting next to him in the dressing room, his center, Anze Kopitar, was using almost the same words.

Talk about synchronized linemates.

Sutter, of course, had his own take.

"You got to win four games," he said. "Do I like going back on the road tomorrow?" he said. "No, absolutely not. But that's the way it works. . . .

"Did we think as, not a home-ice team, we weren't ever going to lose a game? No, it's that simple. You're supposed to play 28 games, not 12 or 13, four of five. That's what it is, right?"

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World