Game 69; 38-25-6

LOS ANGELES – After losing back-to-back games, the Los Angeles Kings were looking to avoid an 0-3-0 start on their current homestand. On Monday night, they played host to a Phoenix Coyotes team who sat just seven points behind them in the Pacific standings.

While the Kings did start the game off firing, it was an inauspicious start as it was the Coyotes who opened the scoring.

At the 6:11 mark of the opening period, Rob Klinkhammer’s shot took a funny bounce and into the net. Then, just 1:03, Mikael Boedker added to the lead thanks to a power play goal to put the Desert Dogs up by a pair. From the start of things, it did not appear as though the Kings came ready to play. But before the first was out, the silver-and-black gave themselves some hope.

With 1:58 remaining in the first, Tanner Pearson wristed his second past Mike Smith to put the home team on the board. Jarret Stoll and Tyler Toffoli provided the assists.

In the second, the Kings tied it. At the 6:50 mark, Alec Martinez continued his recent hot streak with his eighth from Jeff Carter. The goal marked the seventh time in eight games where Martinez registered at least a point. But the silver-and-black were not done there.

With just 1:41 remaining in the middle frame and on the power play, the Kings took their first lead of the night as Marian Gaborik potted his eighth (second as a King). Anze Kopitar and Slava Voynov provided the assists.

Entering the third, the Kings had the numbers on their side. This season, they were 21-0-0 when leading after two. But all good things must come to an end and at the 9:44 mark, Keith Yandle got things started by tying the game on a point shot. Then, with just over three minutes to go in regulation, Jonathan Quick made a great save on Jeff Halpern before making another stop in close. But the referees (unlike the other night) decided to go upstairs to review the play. On the replay, Halpern’s shot, despite Quick’s best efforts, did cross the line and the goal counted.

On the play, the Staples faithful had given Jonathan Quick a standing ovation for his superb play but on the Kings’ broadcast, color analyst Jim Fox not only pointed out that the puck had, in fact, crossed the line but repeated it so many times, it felt as if he was actually excited that the other team had scored. Nevertheless, the goal counted and despite a late push, the Coyotes held on, handing the Kings their first loss of the season when leading after two periods.

Facing 27 shots, Jonathan Quick stopped 23 of them, most of which were lovely saves, but it wasn’t enough. The slow start followed by the few bad bounces proved to be the difference as the Coyotes move to within five points of the Kings for third in the Pacific while, in the process, taking over the second and final wild card spot in the West.

The will was there and so was the determination but the Los Angeles Kings still need to get better as they now have a few days off. Next, the Kings will welcome Dustin Penner back as his new team, the Washington Capitals, pay a visit to Staples Center.