Kings can’t hold on against Coyotes, drop third straight

LOS ANGELES — It seems as though the Kings are getting more and more used to games being decided on controversial calls and flukey shots.

Saturday night’s game against Freeway Series rival Anaheim featured a debacle that saw a goal taken away from Los Angeles. This time, it was a game-winning goal that was initially ruled a save that was given to the Coyotes with only three minutes to play. It marked the first time all season the Kings had blown a third-period lead as they fell 4-3, Tuesday night at the Staples Center.

The Kings were up 3-2 after the second period and were previously unbeaten this season when leading after two periods. But midway through the second period, Keith Yandle teed off on a shot from the blue line and Jonathan Quick was unable to glove it, deflecting it into the net.

Later in the period, Quick made a diving stick save on Jeff Halpern’s wrist shot, going deep into the net to knock the puck out. But the play was reviewed and showed the puck crossing the net, effectively giving the Coyotes a 4-3 lead.

The Kings were unable to put anything on net in the final three minutes of play.

"Four goals against, there is no turning point," Quick said. "No one turning point. Four goals against. Majority of them I thought I should have had. I got to be better for the team. 

The Coyotes took a two-goal lead in the first period before Tanner Pearson turned on the jets down the ice and threw one past Phoenix goaltender Mike Smith for his second goal of the season. Alec Martinez, who now has seven points in his last eight games, scored in the second to tie it and Marian Gaborik then took a lead with a power-play goal with less than two minutes left in the second. 

Gaborik now has 21 goals in 30 career games against the Kings’ Pacific Division foe and with Los Angeles, he has had a point in each of the three games he has played in.

But while the offensive output was there, the defense looked lost at times and several breakdowns led to opportunities for the Coyotes, who were able to capitalize.

"We can’t have that," Martinez said. "Especially in the third period against a hockey club like that. There is a battle here in the West to make the playoffs. Everyone is jockeying for a spot, so we got to sharpen up."

"Quite honestly, the score should have been a lot higher both ways if you look at mistakes that were made and the big saves the goalies had to make," said Kings head coach Darryl Sutter. "Trying to make the playoffs — I’m not a philosopher, we are trying to make the playoffs and so are they. We need some more out of our top guys and it will filter through your lineup."

The Kings (38-25-6, 82 points) are currently holding on to the final playoff spot in the Pacific Division and are holding the Coyotes off by five points. They’ll host the Capitals, winners of their last two-straight and NHL goals leader Alex Ovechkin Thursday night.