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HELENE ELLIOTT

Kings unravel in 2-0 loss to Phoenix

The Coyotes' first controversial goal starts a domino effect as the Kings fall apart, losing for the 10th time in their last 12 games.

January 20, 2011|Helene Elliott
  • Phoenix goalie Ilya Bryzgalov makes a save as Kings forward Ryan Smyth, left, looks for a rebound in front of defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, right, during the second period of the Kings' 2-0 loss Thursday.
Phoenix goalie Ilya Bryzgalov makes a save as Kings forward Ryan Smyth,… (Harry How / Getty Images )

It's no longer a question of why the Kings continue to lose. The question is how they ever won 12 of their first 15 games.

Blanked on the power play six times -- and held without a power-play goal for the sixth straight game -- the Kings extended their latest losing streak to three with a 2-0 loss Thursday to the Phoenix Coyotes at Staples Center.

They got a bad break on Phoenix's first goal, which appeared to deflect into the net while Martin Hanzal held his stick above the height of the crossbar. Ray Whitney's initial shot was stopped by Jonathan Quick but popped up in the air; Kings defenseman Matt Greene swatted at the puck with his right hand, but it grazed the heel of Hanzal's stick and eluded Quick at 8:48 of the second period.

Referee Justin St. Pierre called it a goal, a ruling that was upheld after a long review by the NHL executives in Toronto.

"Refs on the ice had it a goal," Mike Murphy, the NHL's vice president of hockey operations, said in an e-mail. "We felt the views we had were not conclusive to overrule the refs call on the ice."

Fifty-seven seconds later, Lee Stempniak scored on a two-on-one break, making a quick transition after a shot by Kings center Michal Handzus rolled up and almost behind the shoulder of Coyotes goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov. The punchless Kings couldn't respond, losing for the fifth time in six games and 10th time in 12 games since Dec. 29.

The Kings took 36 shots and established a season low by holding the Coyotes to 15 shots. But the Kings didn't bother Bryzgalov often enough as he recorded his third shutout and they lost their third straight game to a team they will face again Saturday in Glendale, Ariz.

They've scored two goals in their last three games and are 0 for 19 with a man advantage in the last six.

"The power play's awful," left wing Ryan Smyth said. "We've got to be way better and take more responsibility as a group of five out there."

Kings Coach Terry Murray was irate that Hanzal's goal was allowed to stand.

"I don't know why we have video replay in the National Hockey League, that's all I can say, if the replay is there for review of goals and non-goals," Murray said. "I don't know.

"You've got a guy that gets credit for the goal -- he's 6-foot-6 and the stick is up above his head. Matt Greene's 6-3 and he's batting the puck down with his hand beside his ear and the net is 4 feet high. It doesn't add up. It makes no sense. No sense.

"How does it get called a goal on the ice, first of all? And then how does the replay hold it up? I don't have an answer."

No one appears to have the answer to their offensive struggles.

Murray had a new piece -- center Andrei Loktionov was recalled from Ontario of the ECHL to play on the top line after left wing Marco Sturm went on injured reserve with a convenient case of tendinitis in his left knee -- but Loktionov wasn't much of a factor after a few promising power-play combinations with Anze Kopitar early in the game.

How does this end?

"We can't have that attitude. It's not the 'Woe is me. It's battle through. Work harder. We have to make our own breaks out there," right wing Justin Williams said.

"You can't feel as though everything is against you because we're going to break through because we're good enough. We're strong enough and I know we have the team to do it. This isn't going to keep getting worse. It's only going to get better for us. I know that."

Then he knows something the announced sellout crowd didn't know Thursday while booing the Kings off the ice.

helene.elliott@latimes.com

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