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    Kings shake off early wobble, beat Coyotes behind balanced effort
    • October 25, 2023

    LOS ANGELES — Although they let their opponents get off the mat at times, the Kings ultimately pinned the Arizona Coyotes, 6-3, in a seesaw affair that saw a broad array of contributors for the hosts on Tuesday night at Arena.

    It was the Kings’ first home victory of the season (in four tries) and it put them on the right side of a .500 points percentage for the second time in the young campaign.

    The Kings got goals from six different scorers: Anze Kopitar, Trevor Lewis, Trevor Moore, Blake Lizotte, Kevin Fiala and Adrian Kempe (empty net). Fiala and Kopitar also contributed an assist apiece, as did five of the six Kings defensemen in uniform on Tuesday. Pheonix Copley earned his first win in his second start of the season after losing a 6-5 overtime affair to Carolina on Oct. 14.

    Jack McBain, Nick Bjugstad and Clayton Keller each tallied for Arizona. Connor Ingram stopped six of the nine shots he faced before being relieved by Karel Vejmelka in a wake-up call goalie change for Arizona, which sharpened up soon after.

    “Overall, it was a good team effort,” Copley said, “Just a full team effort.”

    With 36 seconds remaining, Kempe lofted the puck into the empty net for his second goal of the season, both of which entered a vacated cage.

    As 9:11 displayed on the game clock, the Coyotes appeared to pull back within one but Barrett Hayton’s goal was nullified on a review initiated by the Kings because the play had gone offside.

    “There’s an offside goal, if not, it’s a one-shot game again,” Arizona coach André Tourigny said. “That’s the rule, it is what it is. Don’t take any credit from the Kings.”

    Early in the third period, the Kings absorbed play, brushing up against another tie score at least twice before Fiala authoritatively stuffed home a Vladislav Gavrikov rebound. Fiala, whom Coach Todd McLellan mentioned as not having attempted a shot in a loss to Boston on Saturday, tied for game-high honors with four strikes on net Tuesday.

    “He’s so good visually with all his passes and stuff, but he has a tremendous shot. His goal was the shortest shot he’ll probably take all year, it was from two inches, but you’ve got to go and get those,” said McLellan, whose team has scored at least five goals in four of its six games.

    The second period saw the Kings’ two-goal lead halved, re-established and then reduced anew to a solitary goal.

    A dizzyingly deft passing sequence saw rookie Logan Cooley execute a perfect dish for Keller, who flared into the right circle for a one-timer after players and the puck whizzed about the Kings’ zone, 2:32 before the second intermission. It was the sort of goal to which McLellan said he simply had to tip his cap.

    Lizotte had regained a two-goal edge with the fourth line’s second tally of the night, as he snuck behind pressure generated by a forecheck that caused a turnover and into the low slot unmarked 82 seconds after Arizona scored.

    “First and foremost, we try to be defensively responsible, but [we] love getting love in on the forecheck, so I don’t think it’s anything crazy to say we can chip in offensively, especially when we have our legs,” Lizotte said.

    At the 6:17 mark, Lawson Crouse flicked an innocuous-looking shot on net, but the rebound trickled out to Bjugstad, who had gotten position on Moore and allowed his imposing size to do the rest as he effortlessly popped in his second goal of 2023-24.

    “Bjugstad’s goal, the rebound off the faceoff, that’s a tough box-out, the way it happened. We were better in those areas, it might not look that way, but we were,” McLellan said of his team’s net-front defending.

    After an early wobble, much of the first period was carried by the Kings.

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    Moore scored his team-leading fifth goal after a disrupted counterattack became a workmanlike trip into the offensive zone. It culminated in Danault’s centering pass along the goal line for a swift redirection that chased Ingram from the game after surrendering three goals in just over four minutes between the 8:13 and 12:34 marks of the game.

    The Kings had taken the lead after Andreas Englund and Lizotte’s rush opened up space for a trailing Lewis to slide his first goal of the season far side past Ingram.

    Kopitar had drawn the Kings even with a one-timer off a Fiala seam pass through the center of both faceoff circles. It was the captain’s third goal of the season and his second on the power play.

    The Coyotes started auspiciously, when three minutes into the match McBain stuffed home a rebound from a dangerous Travis Boyd shot that came off a slick pass from behind the net, but Copley soon settled in comfortably.

    “We had a slow start, and our goaltender played extremely well early in the game,” McLellan said.

    Fiala’s first of the season puts LA back up by 2!!!@LAKings I #GoKingsGo

    — Bally Sports West (@BallySportWest) October 25, 2023

    Coach McLellan talks post game@LAKings I #GoKingsGo

    — Bally Sports West (@BallySportWest) October 25, 2023

    Blake Lizotte catches up with @CarrlynBathe after first home win of the season
    @LAKings I #GoKingsGo

    — Bally Sports West (@BallySportWest) October 25, 2023


    — Bally Sports West (@BallySportWest) October 25, 2023

    He’s still got it!@LAKings I #GoKingsGo

    — Bally Sports West (@BallySportWest) October 25, 2023

    Lizotte makes it 4!!@LAKings I #GoKingsGo

    — Bally Sports West (@BallySportWest) October 25, 2023

    ​ Orange County Register