An impressive performance by Jack Campbell helped the lowly Los Angeles Kings push the Arizona Coyotes to the brink of elimination from the Western Conference playoff race.
Campbell made a career-high 49 saves and Trevor Lewis scored 3:29 into the third period, sending the Kings to a 3-1 victory over the Coyotes on Tuesday night.
“Even though it’s been a disappointing year, it’s still fun to play against teams that are on their games down the stretch,” Campbell said. “It’s definitely fun to kind of be the villains and to try to eliminate teams from the playoffs.”
Tyler Clifford had a goal and an assist for Los Angeles (30-41-9), which had dropped three of four. Drew Doughty added an empty-netter with 44.4 seconds left.
Arizona fell four points behind Colorado for the second wild card in the Western Conference. The Coyotes (38-34-8) need to win their final two games and have Colorado lose its last two in order to have a chance to get in.
“Our job is to come in (Wednesday). I know guys are going to be down,” Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet said, “but our coaching staff has to get the energy level up for these guys.”
Brad Richardson scored for Arizona, and Darcy Kuemper made 16 saves before he was accidentally struck in the eye when Lewis raised his stick after his backhand goal.
Kuemper, who has played a key role in Arizona’s push for a wild card, was replaced by Calvin Pickard.
“It looked bad but I think he’s going to be OK,” Tocchet said. “He said he feels OK.”
The Coyotes came up empty on six power plays and lamented their many missed opportunities.
“You can play really great and make a mistake and end up in the back of your net, and it’s not always the same on the other foot,” center Derek Stepan said. “It’s tough to score goals at this time of year.”
Arizona jumped in front when Vinnie Hinostroza set up Richardson 16:06 into the second. Hinostroza gathered in a turnover and took the puck up the ice for a centering pass to Richardson, who moved into a tie for the team lead with his 18th of the season.
The Kings tied it at 1 with less than a second left in the period. Clifford deflected Tyler Toffoli’s shot past Kuemper for his 11th goal.
“That hurt us,” Tocchet said. “It’s tough. It’s still 1-1. We had some good looks, a couple guys had some good looks, but we didn’t score. That’s been the tale of this year, we’ve had a tough time scoring goals.”
The highlight of a scoreless first period was a fight between Clifford and Arizona’s Lawson Crouse, the penalty minutes leaders for their respective teams. After Crouse leveled Alec Martinez with a check, Clifford went after Crouse and both exchanged punches while the crowd roared.