Coyotes fall to Kings' barrage in Tippett's 1,000th game

BY foxsports • February 3, 2016

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- As a man who's coached 1,000 games in the NHL, Dave Tippett knows a thing or two about hockey.

And so there wasn't any reason to question his wisdom as he spoke following Tuesday's morning skate, upon being asked what the Coyotes would have to do to solidify their place as a playoff contender.

"The biggest thing we talked about as a team yesterday, our goals against is going to have to improve if we're going to be a playoff team," Tippett said.

"These games are going to be really tight. You can't give up easy goals. It's going to get harder to score goals, so you can't give up easy ones."

Tippett's words rang true on Tuesday night at Gila River Arena, as the Coyotes stumbled to a 6-2 loss to the Los Angeles Kings in their first game out of the All-Star Break, and Tippett's 1,000th game behind the bench.

The loss, coupled with Anaheim's 3-2 win over San Jose, left the Coyotes tied with the Ducks for the third playoff position in the Pacific Division, but the Ducks have played two fewer games.

"This one was a good lesson for us," Tippett said. "L.A. looks like a team coming out of the break that's gearing up for the stretch drive, and they showed that tonight.

"It was a lesson in special teams, a lesson in puck battles, a lesson in commitment to getting things done. There was lots to learn out of that game."

The Coyotes (24-21-5) scored first on a Jordan Martinook goal from a strange angle in the corner, then regained a 2-1 lead in the second period when Max Domi chased down a loose puck with a pure hustle play and set up Anthony Duclair for his 14th goal of the season. But it was all Kings for the final 31 minutes with five unanswered goals. Alec Martinez's power-play goal tied it at 2 with 10:03 to play in the second, and the critical unraveling came with less then 2 minutes to go in the second as the Kings scored twice in a 12-second span.

First, Kevin Connauton lost the puck when his stick snapped in two on a shot attempt. The Kings (31-16-3) headed the other way on a 2-on-1, and Marian Gaborik put one into the top of the net for a 3-2 lead with 1:13 left in the period.

Twelve seconds later, Dustin Brown's seemingly innocuous shot from center ice somehow slithered past Louis Domingue to make it 4-2. It was a fateful and disastrous turn of events.

"The whole sequence there, we've got it 2-2, we're hanging around the game -- maybe we don't deserve to be hanging around the game, but we are," Tippett said. "That sequence certainly changed the outcome of the game right there."

Domingue on Monday was named the NHL Rookie of the Month for January, but he was pulled three minutes into the third period after giving up another relatively soft goal to Brown to make it 5-2. Domingue also gave up five goals in a loss to Winnipeg in his final game before the All-Star break.

"I felt like my glove hand was pretty awful tonight," Domingue said. "It's on me tonight. If I make more saves, then we have a chance to win."

Domingue said he's not concerned with bouncing back from two rough efforts.

"It's not the first time I've faced adversity in my career," he said. "I've just got to regroup right away and move on."

The Kings were 3 for 7 on the power play, while the Coyotes were 0 for 5, continuing a disturbing trend. The Coyotes came into the game ranked 17th in power-play effectiveness and 28th in penalty killing.

"Two of those goals, the first two should be stopped," Tippett said. "Those two are on the goalie.

"Our save percentage on the PK is way below what it should be. That's an area we gotta clean up. Your penalty kill, you need saves, that's the bottom line."

It doesn't get any easier for the Coyotes over the next three days. Following a day off on Wednesday, they host Central Division-leading Chicago on Thursday, then head to Anaheim for a Friday night game against the Ducks.

"You've almost got to be in playoff mode," Tippett said. "Show up, go to work, start working on the next game. There's no time to dwell on the past."

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