Smith gets physical, then gets shutout

Associated Press  |  Last updated February 17, 2012
Mike Smith posted his fourth shutout of the season after getting into first-period altercation with Anze Kopitar, Radim Vrbata tied a career high with his 27th goal, and the Phoenix Coyotes beat the Los Angeles Kings 1-0 on Thursday night. Smith made 28 saves for his 15th career shutout, and Vrbata scored on a power play in the second period. The Kings, coming off a 4-2 win over Dallas in which they had only 16 shots on net, returned from their 2-3-1 Grammy trip with their seventh shutout loss of the season. It was the eighth time Los Angeles was held to fewer than two goals in its last 13 games (5-5-3), and the fourth time this season that the Kings lost by a 1-0 score. Vrbata scored while Kings defenseman Jack Johnson was serving a delay-of-game penalty for clearing the puck over the glass. Vrbata beat Jonathan Quick to the glove side with a 25-foot wrist shot from the right circle after getting a cross-ice pass from Ray Whitney. The goal was Vrbata's ninth game-winner of the season, one fewer than league-leader Johan Franzen of Detroit. The 10-year veteran right wing has scored a league-best 19 goals on the road, three more than Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin. The game featured three fights in the first period, including a rare brawl between the team captains, as the Kings' Dustin Brown and Shane Doan slugged it out at 4:37. Doan took exception to a hard open-ice hit Brown laid on Rotislav Klesla that left the defenseman writhing in pain on the ice for several moments before hobbling to the dressing room. Brown and Doan had words as they lined up for the ensuing faceoff, and the gloves came off 3 seconds after the puck dropped. Just 41 seconds later, Smith went after Kopitar after the Kings' center was shoved into the Phoenix goaltender by Brown. The collision drove Smith back into the net and knocked his mask off. The Kings ended up with a power play, as Smith got a roughing penalty and teammate Adrian Aucoin was sent off for roughing. Kopitar was penalized for goalie interference, but surprisingly did not get an additional roughing call. Kings center Mike Richards mixed it up with Martin Hanzal 56 seconds later, and Phoenix left wing Raffi Torres got into a fight with Colin Fraser at 18:45 of the first. In all, there were 40 minutes in penalties during the period - just 13 fewer than the combined total during the four previous meetings between the clubs this season. Notes: Phoenix LW Paul Bissonnette got into a third-period fight with Kevin Westgarth. The Coyotes ended up with 28 penalty minutes, after coming in averaging a league-low 8.0. ... Richards hasn't scored a goal in 13 straight games, and has only one over his last 23. He sat out eight games in December, then scored in each of his next two games back before this goal drought began. ... Los Angeles has not allowed a first-period goal in 11 of their last 12 games, and have given up just 34 over their last 22 games overall. ... The Vrbata-Whitney-Hanzal line has combined for 10 goals and 18 assists over the last 10 games. ... Despite the loss, the Kings are 3-1-1 against the Coyotes, who host the finale of the season series next Tuesday. ... Phoenix has killed off all 16 opponents' power plays over the last five games, including three by Los Angeles. Kings D Drew Doughty hit the right post with a 60-foot wrist shot from the right point at 13:09 of the first period while Aucoin was off for high-sticking. ... The Coyotes have been short-handed no more than three times in any of their last eight games. This was the first time seven games that they had more than two power-play opportunities. ... Kings C Jarret Stoll, their best player on faceoffs, missed his third straight game because of a lower body injury. LW Dustin Penner was a healthy scratch for the third straight games. ... The Coyotes, who came in with a league-worst power-play percentage of 12.7, were 1 for 5 with the man advantage. ... Whitney leads Phoenix with 52 points and a plus-19 rating. The best plus-minus figure on the Kings' roster belongs to RW Justin Williams (plus-6). ... The Kings haven't allowed more than three goals in any of their last 14 games since a 5-4 home loss to Dallas on Jan. 12.
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