On Saturday night, Dec 26, 2015 the Los Angeles Kings blew a two-goal lead in the third period, but ultimately defeated the Arizona Coyotes in overtime by a final score of 4-3 in front of a crowd of 15,277 at Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona.
The Kings were shorthanded almost from the opening drop of the puck, as star center Jeff Carter only skated two shifts before leaving the game with an ‘upper-body injury’ and did not return.
It was Carter who took the game’s opening faceoff, but appeared to injure his right hand while vying for the puck. He finished out his first shift and part of another, but that was all. He was officially credited with 48 seconds of ice time. The team did not release any further details on Carter’s injury, but did say he would be traveling with the team as they head to Western Canada for a stretch of three games in four nights, beginning in Vancouver on Monday, Dec. 28.
The game against Arizona had a rather interesting flow. The Coyotes took a 1-0 lead on a power play goal by smooth-skating defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson at 9:43 of the first period. Amazingly, this was just the first of five power play goals which would be scored during the game. Through the first two periods, the Kings outshot Arizona 18-15 though the 1-0 lead held up. Then came a tense third period in which goals were plentiful.
Kings defenseman Drew Doughty opened the scoring with a power play goal just 37 seconds into the third period. Kings forward Tanner Pearson scored less than four minutes later and Kings captain Dustin Brown scored a power play goal at 6:23. Just that quickly, a 1-0 deficit was transformed into a 3-1 lead. That would be just the beginning of the thrill ride.
The Kings were still leading 3-1 when Jake Muzzin received a ‘match penalty’ for a check to the head area of a falling Boyd Gordon at 13:20. By rule, Muzzin was ejected from the game and Arizona went on a five-minute power play. 1:33 of the five-minute major penalty had elapsed, when Kings defenseman Alec Martinez’ attempted to clear the puck, but put it over the glass. The resultant delay-of-game penalty gave Arizona a two-man power play advantage, and they made the most of it.
At 16:07, Antoine Vermette scored a power play goal on the two-man power play advantage. The goal wiped out the Martinez penalty, and the latter was on the ice when Ekman-Larsson scored a power play goal at 16:37 to tie the game at 3-3. The third period ended with the score tied and the teams having combined for five goals in the final 20 minutes. The Kings had 14 shots on goal, Arizona had 11; each team scored twice on the power play.
The 3-on-3 overtime session did not last long. Kings center Anze Kopitar who had logged a ton of ice time due to the early injury to Jeff Carter, made a great power move in the Arizona zone. After taking a pass from Tyler Toffoli in the neutral zone, Kopitar skated across the Arizona blueline. He was able to shed Coyotes forward Viktor Tikhonov who was trying to defend, and then swooped in on the Arizona net and put the puck past outstretched goalie Louis Domingue, 37 seconds after the start of the extra session.
Kings notes – Kopitar logged 27:41 of ice time; second only to defenseman Drew Doughty who logged 33:24. As all match penalties are reviewed by the NHL, Jake Muzzin may be facing a suspension for his hit on Gordon. The upcoming road trip will see the Kings playing in Vancouver on Monday and in Edmonton on Tuesday, Dec. 29, before wrapping up with a game in Calgary on Thursday, Dec. 31. The Kings will then return home to face the Philadelphia Flyers at STAPLES center on Saturday, Jan 2, 2016. With a record of 21-11-2, the Kings lead the Pacific division by seven points over the second-place Vancouver Canucks.
Dec. 26, 2015 – LA Kings 4, AZ Coyotes 3 (OT). Final shots on goal: LAK 33, AZ 27. Power play: LAK 2/6, AZ 3/6. Three Stars of the game: 1) Anze Kopitar – LAK, 2) Oliver Ekman-Larsson – AZ, 3) Mikkel Boedker – AZ. Goaltenders: LAK – Jonathan Quick, AZ – Louis Domingue.
Kings forward line combinations:
Kings defense pairings: