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Kings focus on knowing what needs to be done

Aware they gave Phoenix hope by losing Game 4, they set sights on pulling it together and closing out the series in Game 5. They will attempt to extend their playoff road winning streak to eight.

May 21, 2012|By Lisa Dillman

He wasn't invoking the wisdom of hockey greats such as the legendary Gordie Howe or even Wayne Gretzky, a star with some serious Kings cred in his background.

Kings Coach Darryl Sutter thought about the topic of playing with a lead, reached into his own coaching/playing past and landed in the Midwest — more precisely, in Chicago.

"What was Michael Jordan's famous line? Structure gets me to the fourth quarter and then I take over," Sutter said on Monday in El Segundo.

The third period would work just fine too.

For the second time in three days, the Kings will attempt to close out the Phoenix Coyotes in the Western Conference finals, this time as the visiting team. Ahead 3-1 in the series, they will attempt to extend their playoff road winning streak to eight in Game 5 on Tuesday at Jobing.com Arena in Glendale, Ariz.

If the Kings prevail, they would be the first team to go undefeated on the road on their way to the Stanley Cup finals under the current playoff format, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

The Coyotes were boosted in Game 4 by the return of center Martin Hanzal, coming off his one-game suspension, and veteran defenseman Adrian Aucoin, who is questionable for Game 5 (undisclosed injury). He did not skate Monday.

Phoenix, though, has grown accustomed to constant adversity, on and off the ice.

"I don't understand how we tend to push it to the limit," said Coyotes captain Shane Doan, who scored twice in Game 4. "If it's playing in a game when you've got the lead, you give up the lead, have to win it in overtime.

"…That's the way our group is. We joke we need to change our slogan: 'It's hockey the hard way.' We've made it the hard way at every turn. Hopefully, next year it's hockey the easy way."

Game 4 was hardly a clunker. Give the Coyotes credit for preventing the window of opportunity from snapping shut, winning, 2-0. The Kings may not have been lacking the structure and overall discipline Sutter was talking about, but there was something missing in terms of the finer points of the game.

"We've got to win this next game," said Kings defenseman Drew Doughty. "We gave them hope last night. We let them back into the series, making it 3-1. So this next game is huge. If they win that one, then we're coming back [to L.A.], and they win one more, they push it to a Game 7.

"We've got to play our best game. I think our last couple games we really slacked off, haven't played our best hockey as a team. Going into the next one in their barn, we've got to be at our best or things are going to change in the series."

The power play would be a good starting point. They were 0 for 6 with the man advantage in Game 4. That hadn't been as big an issue because of the Kings' secondary scoring.

"You look at everything the Kings have done, it's great," Doan said. "That [Dwight] King/[Jarret] Stoll/[ Trevor] Lewis line has arguably been the best line of the series. The level is so intense. There's so little room, you have to have other guys step up."

Whether it was the power-play woes or the larger picture, Sutter was recommending his own brand of temporary amnesia as the Kings headed back on the road.

"Try and win the next game," Sutter said. "Could be in Tucson or in Toledo or in Los Angeles. To me, it has no bearing on anything. It's always now and today and tomorrow, not last week or next week.

"That's the best part about being in the playoffs. It is always about your next game, not about something that happened 30 years ago or two days ago, right? That's the best part."

lisa.dillman@latimes.com

twitter.com/reallisa

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