Phoenix at Los Angeles

Coyotes stun Kings, record first 50-win season in franchise history


LOS ANGELES -- An out-of-nowhere comeback victory is the perfect way for the Phoenix Coyotes to make history.

Nobody expected much of anything out of this beleaguered franchise this season, yet the Coyotes have sneaked up on the rest of the NHL all the way to a nifty 50 victories.

Western Conference
4x-St. Louis486024
5x-Los Angeles485925
6x-San Jose485717
Complete Playoff Race

Adrian Aucoin scored in the fourth round of the shootout, and Phoenix roared back from a two-goal deficit in the final minutes of regulation to beat the Los Angeles Kings 3-2 on Thursday night.

Jason LaBarbera stopped 22 shots against his former Los Angeles teammates as the Coyotes secured the first 50-victory season in the 30-year NHL history of a franchise that began life as the WHA's Winnipeg Jets. They also extended another club record with their 106th point, and they did it with the same hard work that has put them back in the playoffs for the first time since 2002.

"We can't say we're surprised," said Taylor Pyatt, who scored the tying goal with 5:53 left in regulation. "We've been winning this type of game all season long."

Drew Doughty and Jack Johnson scored in regulation for the Kings before Matthew Lombardi and Pyatt scored 1:24 apart to tie it for the Coyotes, who already locked themselves into the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference playoffs one night earlier with a victory against Nashville.

Anze Kopitar scored in the shootout's first round, but Radim Vrbata tied it on Phoenix's last chance in the third. After Jarret Stoll missed, Aucoin beat Kings goalie Jonathan Quick with a wrist shot.

"I just figured this goalie hadn't seen too many hockey highlights, being in L.A.," Aucoin said, laughing. "Maybe he hadn't seen my special move. ... We're professionals. We've been playing this same way all year. Barbs made some great saves and kept us in it, and we finally capitalized."

The Coyotes rallied to snap a four-game road losing streak while resting a handful of regulars: starting goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, forward Petr Prucha and defensemen Ed Jovanovski and Sami Lepisto.

Both Phoenix and Los Angeles are headed back to the postseason for the first time in seven seasons -- and if the Kings recover from this stunning loss to finish strong, the Pacific Division's usual also-rans will face each other.

By losing for the second time in three consecutive shootout games, the Kings still moved into a tie with Detroit and Nashville for fifth place in the West playoff standings with 98 points. Los Angeles can earn a first-round rematch with Phoenix by beating Edmonton and Colorado in the final weekend of the regular season, but the Kings wasted a chance to tie a franchise record with their 46th victory.

"We're trying to move up in the standings, and hopefully if we move up as far as we can, if we keep winning games here, we play these guys next week," said Kings defenseman Matt Greene, who accepted blame for the Coyotes' tying goal. "It's obviously not the outcome we wanted. We didn't have that down in the third period."

Quick made 25 saves, but failed in his seventh consecutive attempt to earn his franchise-record 40th victory.

Quick already has the winningest season for a goalie in Kings history, and he tied Felix Potvin's team record with his 71st appearance against the Coyotes. His play has been a major factor in Los Angeles' playoff return -- yet he's catching far too much unpleasant attention lately as a possible weak link.

Quick hasn't won in seven appearances since March 22, getting pulled twice -- including Tuesday night in Anaheim, where he allowed three goals on eight shots before the Kings rallied for a 5-4 shootout victory. Coach Terry Murray has stood behind Quick, insisting the goalie would regain his form in time for the postseason.

"Penalty killing was huge for Quick," said Kings coach Terry Murray, whose team held Phoenix scoreless on six power plays. "I liked his game. I thought he was alert, sharp, and made some great stops. ... I don't think the killer instinct is lacking. I think it was just two faceoff losses [leading to Phoenix's goals]."

After Doughty opened the scoring midway through the second period with a spectacular breakaway goal, Quick and the Kings seemed firmly in control before Lombardi's goal halved their lead. Pyatt then deflected home Zbynek Michalek's shot from the point with 5:53 left, stunning the sellout Staples Center crowd.

Phoenix's scratches created rare playing opportunities for enforcer Paul Bissonnette, who hadn't played since getting just over two minutes of action on March 14, and veteran defenseman Mathieu Schneider, acquired from Vancouver last month.


  • Kings C Jeff Halpern was a healthy scratch after missing a week with an upper-body injury. Halpern was blindsided into the boards by Vancouver's Tanner Glass last week.
  • Bissonnette leads the Coyotes in penalty minutes despite playing in only 41 games. He fought Los Angeles enforcer Raitis Ivanans in the second period.
  • Kopitar, the Kings' leading scorer with 80 points, set a career high with his 46th assist on Doughty's goal.
Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
Adrian Aucoin, Wojtek Wolski and Matthew Lombardi celebrate a nice accomplishment. (US Presswire)
Adrian Aucoin, Wojtek Wolski and Matthew Lombardi celebrate a nice accomplishment. (US Presswire)
Phoenix  (50-25-6) «00201 (2)3
Los Angeles (45-27-8)01100 (1)2
Three Stars
D. Doughty

Goals: 1
Assist(s): 0
M. Lombardi

Goals: 1
Assist(s): 0
J. Johnson

Goals: 1
Assist(s): 0

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Scoring Summary
07:48Drew Doughty (16), Backhand Shot. Assist: Kopitar, Williams
09:16Jack Johnson (8), Backhand Shot. Assist: Smyth
12:43Matthew Lombardi (17), Wrist Shot. Assist: Wolski
14:07Taylor Pyatt (12), Tip-In. Assist: Michalek, Fiddler
 Anze Kopitar (8), GOAL
 Radim Vrbata (7), GOAL
 Adrian Aucoin (6), GOAL
Penalty Summary
02:00Greene, 2 min, Delay of Game - Puck Over Glass
07:29O'Donnell, 2 min, Cross-Checking
13:24Doughty, 2 min, Slashing
03:43Bissonnette, 5 min, Fighting
03:43Ivanans, 5 min, Fighting
11:30Jones, 4 min, High-Sticking
16:02Brown, 2 min, Interference
16:02Vandermeer, 2 min, Roughing
12.0Hanzal, 2 min, Slashing
21.0Handzus, 2 min, High-Sticking
Shots On Goal
Los Angeles510924
Jason LaBarbera 65:0022241
Jonathan Quick 65:0025242
Game Information
Attendance - 18118
Referees - Greg Kimmerly, Chris Rooney
Linesmen - Shane Heyer, Jonny Murray
Other Games
Mon 2 Final
Car 5
NJ 2 Final
Fla 3
Ana 2 Final
Dal 3
Buf 1 Final
Bos 3
Ott 3 Final
TB 4
Min 2 Final
Cal 1
Van 2 Final
SJ 4
NYI 3 Final
Pitt 7