Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty, right, puts a hit on Phoenix Coyotes right wing Scottie Upshall during the first period of their NHL hockey game, Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
LOS ANGELES, Calif. - The Los Angeles Kings were incensed after Phoenix centre Martin Hanzal's disputed goal was allowed to stand despite the fact that he hit the puck with a high stick.
They were so flustered, they gave up another one less than a minute later. Still, they had a period and a half to do something about it and weren't able to get a puck past Ilya Bryzgalov in a game they dominated most of the way.
Bryzgalov posted his 19th career shutout with 36 saves in a 2-0 victory Thursday night and thwarted five power plays, helping extend the Coyotes' road winning streak to four games.
"Bryzie was great tonight," Phoenix captain Shane Doan said. "We knew it was going to be a tough game and we recognized how good those guys are, but we gave them too many power plays."
The Coyotes, who had only six shots on net in the first period, did not record another one until Ray Whitney took a deflected slap shot from the top of the left circle that was stopped by Jonathan Quick. Hanzal batted the fluttering rebound over the goalie's left shoulder on his backhand at 8:48 of the second while Justin Williams was off for tripping Kyle Turris.
Replays clearly showed that the blade of Hanzal's stick was above the crossbar, and nose-level with Kings defenceman Matt Greene when he made contact with the puck. But referee Justin St. Pierre, standing behind the net, immediately ruled it was a goal. Officials in Toronto upheld the call after a lengthy review, and the sellout crowd voiced its disapproval.
"It was really close," Hanzal said. "I was surprised they called it a goal. I thought it was going to be a high stick, but it is what it is and I'll take whatever I can get. I had exactly the same thing called in Colorado before Christmas, but they didn't count it."
Kings coach Terry Murray didn't hold back his anger after the game.
"How does it get called on the ice as a goal, first of all, and then how does the replay hold it up? I don't have an answer," Murray said.
"I mean, you've got a guy that gets credit for the goal, he's six-foot-six and the stick is above his head. Matt Greene is 6-3, and he's trying to bat the puck down with his hand beside his ear. And the net is four feet high. That doesn't add up. It makes no sense. I don't know why we have video replay in the National Hockey League. If the replay is there for the review of goals and non-goals ... I don't know."
Lee Stempniak also scored for the Coyotes, who have won each of the first three meetings with their Pacific Division rivals. Bryzgalov got his third shutout of the season after giving up eight goals in consecutive losses to San Jose and Nashville.
The former Anaheim Ducks goalie is 12-2-1 in his last 15 starts against Los Angeles, including a 6-3 victory that started the Kings on their current 2-10-0 slide. The teams conclude their home-and-home set Saturday night at Phoenix.
"We got some good looks and good shots around the net on the power play, but we just couldn't connect," Anze Kopitar said. "I think (Bryzgalov) made a few saves not knowing where the puck was. It's been going like that for us."
The Kings, coming off consecutive 2-1 road losses against Dallas and St. Louis, were shut out for the third time this season. They are 12th in the tightly bunched Western Conference and trail Chicago and Colorado by five points for the eighth and final playoff seed with 35 games remaining.
"It's just a tough stretch," Greene said. "To get out of a slump like we're in, you've got to play some good hockey first. We're doing that right now, but we're just not seeing the results. Our offensive guys did their job and we had the pressure on them for a lot of the night, but their goalie had a great game. It's really frustrating."
Stempniak, who recorded his only NHL hat trick on Oct. 21 against the Kings at Phoenix, made it 2-0 just 57 seconds after Hanzal's 11th goal with his 12th of the season. He took off from the Coyotes' zone on a 2-on-1 rush with Taylor Pyatt against Rob Scuderi and beat Quick to the stick side with a 30-foot wrist shot from the right circle.
"It was one of those things during a game when a call doesn't go your way, but that shouldn't be a reason to get scored on again right after," Kopitar said. "It was frustrating, but you've got to battle through things like that."
Marco Sturm, who has four goals and four assists in 15 games since joining the Kings in a trade from Boston, was placed on injured reserve Thursday because of tendinitis in his left knee—forcing him to sit out Monday's reunion with the Bruins at Staples Center. The move is retroactive to Jan. 18.
NOTES: Sturm, who is making US$3.5 million this season, missed the first 2 1/2 months of the schedule while recovering from surgery to repair ligaments in his right knee that were torn during last year's playoffs. ... The Kings are 0 for 19 on the power play over their last six games—matching their longest drought of last season. The last time they went more than six consecutive games without scoring with the man advantage was March 4-20, 2003 (nine games).
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