NHL

Cullen: Kings continue dominance, take 3-0 series lead

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Scott Cullen
5/18/2012 12:20:28 AM
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Dwight King's fifth goal of the playoffs proved to be the difference as the Los Angeles Kings downed the Phoenix Coyotes 2-1 in Game Three to move within on game of a sweep and a berth in the Stanley Cup Final.

King was a valuable secondary contributor during the regular season, putting up five goals and 14 points in 27 games after he was called up from the AHL, but he now has five goals in a dozen playoff games and getting that kind of production from a rookie in modest playing time (under 12 minutes per game in the playoffs) is yet another reason why the Kings are unstoppable right now.

The Coyotes started strong, registering 11 shots on goal in the first period and scoring the game's first goal, when Daymond Langkow found the net 1:03 into the second period, but they lost their momentum shortly thereafter.

The Kings have barely played from behind at all in this year's playoffs and only let the Coyotes hold the lead for 2:07 before Anze Kopitar netted the tying goal on a breakaway. In any case, the Kings outshot the Coyotes 20-8 over the last two periods, territorial dominance that pretty effectively sealed the Coyotes' fate.

Lauri Korpikoski and Taylor Pyatt led the Coyotes with three shots on goal, but it was more telling that Shane Doan and Radim Vrbata had none. That happened to Vrbata only three times all season, and none after December 14. (He had no shots in the first game of the playoffs too, but played only 30 seconds due to injury.)

It seems a reasonable indication that Vrbata missed big centre Martin Hanzal, who was suspended for Game Three after a hit from behind on Kings captain Dustin Brown in Game Two.

While Doan didn't manage a shot on goal, he did dish out a game-high 11 hits. In the battle of hitting captains, Dustin Brown delivered nine, while defenceman Drew Doughty had eight.

The Kings once again had a healthy 28-19 shot advantage, even though Jeff Carter, Dustin Penner and Justin Williams all went without one.

There hasn't been much indication that the Coyotes are going to present any threat to the Kings in this series. Over the last seven games, the Kings have killed 27 shorthanded situations and they have outshot Phoenix 116-70 through the first three games, so it's hard to imagine what circumstances will be necessary for the Coyotes to mount a significant rally in this series.

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.

Los Angeles Kings Celebrate (Photo:  Andrew D. Bernstein/NHLI via Getty Images)

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(Photo: Andrew D. Bernstein/NHLI via Getty Images)
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