Jeff Carter's three goals led the Kings to a Game 2 win and a 2-0 series lead over Phoenix. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
The NHL Playoff Recap gives you THN's take of what happened in each game of the night and what the consequences will be for the rest of the series.
We also provide our Three Stars of the night, which will be tabulated after each round. First Star is three points, Second Star is two points and Third Star is one point. Be sure to vote on who you think the first star was as well.
Of course there's the other side of the coin: The Black Hole is a piece of the lineup that just couldn't get it going on a given night and contributed to a difficult evening for the team.
THN’s Take: The question is no longer whether or not the Los Angeles Kings will advance to the Stanley Cup final. The only thing to determine now is whether or not they’ll actually break a sweat getting there.
With their seventh straight road victory of this year’s playoffs, the Kings are on the verge of becoming the team to play the fewest games to get to the final since the 1988 Edmonton Oilers. The fact they are doing it in such a dominant fashion is a testament to how incredibly well they are playing, combined with the realization that the feel-good Phoenix Coyotes have hit a brick wall.
And by all accounts Phoenix isn’t the least bit happy about it. The Coyotes are simply becoming unglued playing against a superior opponent. We’ll give Shane Doan a mulligan on his hit from behind on Trevor Lewis, but Martin Hanzal’s hit from behind on Dustin Brown and Derek Morris’ kneeing infraction on Rob Scuderi were inexcusable. All three will undoubtedly be reviewed, as will the offsetting minors on Brown and Coyotes goalie Mike Smith when Smith whacked Brown on the back of the legs on what might have been the worst call of the playoffs.
Like the Kings needed it. They finally got some production from the missing Jeff Carter, who scored a hat trick and was a menace in front of the Phoenix net all night. This is the team that couldn’t score goals during the regular season, right? In a season when the post-season has defied all sense of logic, the Kings have scored an average of 3.18 goals per game in 11 games. During the regular season, they were the second worst offensive team in the league with 2.29 per game.
But that’s what happens when a team is too big and too strong and too good for its opponent and is able to put everything together. When the Kings play the way they did in Game 2, combined with the goaltending of Jonathan Quick, they’re all but impossible to beat. Particularly for a team that knows it is hopelessly overmatched.
The Kings best players, unlike for long stretches during the regular season, have emerged to play enormous roles. The Coyotes best players are either invisible or conspicuous by their errors in judgment.
1. Jeff Carter: The only Kings player who needed to step up his game did so in a big way with a hat trick and a dominating performance on the power play.
2. Anze Kopitar: With two helpers, Kopitar tied Claude Giroux for the league lead in assists with nine. It’s only a matter of time before he seizes the overall scoring lead.
3. Jonathan Quick: He wasn’t overworked and certainly didn’t have to steal this victory, but he repeatedly broke the Coyotes spirit by making saves at crucial times.
The Black Hole: Take your pick, but the Coyotes count on Martin Hanzal for leadership and timely offense. When he drilled Dustin Brown from behind in the third period, he allowed his sense of frustration to get the better of him. If he plays in Game 3, he’s going to have to be much better than he was in Game 2.