Mike Smith turned aside 36 shots for a shutout win. (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NHLI via 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: Apparently you don’t need urgency to win a playoff game when facing elimination. That’s the message the Phoenix Coyotes sent with an odd victory over the Los Angeles Kings in Game 4 of the Western Conference final.
The Desert Dogs came out flat as can be and spent much of the day fending off L.A. chances – the Kings outshot them 36-21 – but held on for a 2-0 victory to stay alive in the series. Goaltender Mike Smith carried Phoenix on his back and captain Shane Doan scored the game’s only two goals.
If the Coyotes want to extend this series past Game 5, however, they shouldn’t look to duplicate their Game 4 effort. They were badly outchanced, relied heavily on their hot goalie and didn’t generate many, if any, quality scoring chances. Even Doan’s goals came on a harmless-looking backhand and a deflection through traffic. We didn’t see a desperate Coyotes team dig deep for a gutsy effort to stay alive today; we saw a listless team get lucky.
1. Mike Smith - Unlike most of his teammates, Smith really came to play in Game 4. He made several difficult saves, including a pair on Mike Richards, and had to find the puck through traffic time and again. Without him, Phoenix wouldn’t have won, plain and simple.
2. Shane Doan - Strange that, in a game the Coyotes won, only one of their forwards (maybe two if you count Antoine Vermette’s excellence on faceoffs) stood out. Doan accounted for the only offense and played with an edge, catching Drew Doughty with a stiff hit that left the Kings blueliner clutching his shoulder in pain.
3. Mike Richards - He gave the Coyotes ‘D’ a workout all game, driving hard to the net and making everyone chase him. He could’ve had multiple goals had Smith not stoned him. The box score says he was a minus-1 and had just two shots, but it doesn’t tell the story properly. Richards was a lot to handle.
Who do you think was the first star?
The Black Hole: Weird. Another look at the box score says “J. Carter” played 17 minutes. Who? Wait...Jeff Carter? He played in Game 4? Never would’ve known. For every big game Carter has, he spends three more on milk cartons. The donut L.A. posted on the scoreboard in Game 4 tells you how badly the Kings need some offensive consistency from No. 77.
- Matt Larkin