It’s not a snap, but Kings get first win
GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Kings got their first win of the season, each member of their top line got his first point of the season, and rookie defenseman Jake Muzzin played clutch minutes while scoring his first NHL goal.
Notably missing from that list is the Kings’ first power-play goal of the season. They’re still waiting for that, but they checked off a healthy number of significant “firsts” Saturday in earning a 4-2 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes in the teams’ first meeting since the Kings prevailed in the Western Conference finals last spring.
“That’s another one that will feel nice when it happens,” winger Justin Williams said of the missing power-play production, which hit 0 for 23 after an 0-for-4 performance that included a wasted five-on-three.
“We’re getting there. It’s a process. You don’t play for six, seven months, it doesn’t come back in the snap of a hat.”
Apparently, cliches don’t come back quickly either.
“What expression is that? The snap of a finger,” he said, laughing. “It’s certainly good to get going. Good to get a win.”
Top-line center Anze Kopitar scored the Kings’ first two goals with the help of each of his wingers, first Dustin Brown and then Williams, and Muzzin provided a cushion with a long screen shot that snaked past Jason LaBarbera to give the Kings a 4-2 lead at 8 minutes 35 seconds of the third period.
“It’s been my third game, so I think there was no fire underneath me, but it’s just nice to get out of the way,” Kopitar said of his goals. “You definitely think about it.”
Kyle Clifford, a rugged winger who has thrived after being moved to a scoring line, assisted on Muzzin’s goal and has points in all four games the Kings (1-2-1) have played in this shortened season.
“He’s making his name out there for sure. He’s playing solid,” Kopitar said. “He’s one of the best players on this team right now.”
Eight players figured in the scoring, a good balance but not good enough for Coach Darryl Sutter.
“I think we need some more. I don’t think eight’s going to win you many games,” he said. “We’ve still got some guys that have some work to do.”
That applies to the power play too, though as Kopitar pointed out, it wasn’t much of a weapon during the Kings’ Stanley Cup march.
“Everybody was on us during the playoffs last year, but it turned out we got the timely goals,” he said. “You look at the stats and percentage, but if you get it when you need it the most, that’s what we’ve been known to do.”
That was the case Saturday before a lively crowd at Jobing.com Arena.
The Kings — who again scratched a healthy Dustin Penner from their lineup — scored at 1:04 of the second period, after Brown passed the puck to his right to Kopitar, whose wrist shot eluded LaBarbera. The Coyotes pulled even at 3:57, with 10 seconds left on a five-on-three advantage, when Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s shot bounced in front of the net and Mikkel Boedker swatted it home.
Kopitar made it 2-1 at 5:08, off a nifty pass from Williams, and Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick preserved that lead with a right-leg save on a breakaway by Boedker. Jeff Carter extended the lead to 3-1 at 11:33, on the rebound of a shot that Simon Gagne had taken from just above the right circle, and an apparent tying goal by Phoenix a few seconds later was waved off when the officials ruled that David Moss had impeded Quick’s ability to make a save.
Shane Doan got the Coyotes within a goal on a shot from the lower edge of the right circle 22 seconds into the third period, but Muzzin beat LaBarbera to the glove side for the two-goal margin.
“I got lucky,” said Muzzin, who has teamed with Davis Drewiske to soften the blow of losing defensemen Matt Greene and Willie Mitchell to back and knee surgery, respectively.
“It was a big win and we’ve just got to keep it going.”
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