Phoenix Coyotes Lose to Los Angeles Kings in Western Conference Finals Opener
"The first five, 10 minutes is obviously going to be a huge part of momentum swings in the series," Smith told reporters on Saturday, according to a transcript provided by the NHL. "When you start off on the right note with a good first 10 minutes, good start, go from there."
Unfortunately, it was Los Angeles Kings star Anze Kopitar who scored on a backhand shot against the Coyotes just under four minutes into the first game of the Western Conference finals last night.
The Kings kept the momentum going to beat the Coyotes 4-2 Sunday night, although one of those Kings goals was on an empty net late in the third period.
Luckily for Smith and the Coyotes, it was just the first game of the series.
It wasn't until later in the first period that the Coyotes gave their response to Kopitar's goal, but it was probably the boldest response possible -- a goal from center ice.
As the Kings mishandled the puck in their own zone, the Coyotes' Daymond Langkow swiped the puck, and delivered it to defenseman Derek Morris across the red line.
Morris, just south of the Coyotes logo in the middle of the ice, slapped the puck past Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick.
In the second period, the Kings got on the board again, and the Coyotes responded with a goal again.
That time, the Coyotes caught Quick off guard, as Quick was slow to get in position after playing the puck behind the net, and Coyotes captain Shane Doan delivered a sweet pass across the goal to Mikkel Boedker, who dropped it in for a goal as Quick was still expecting the puck to be on the other side.
Kings captain Dustin Brown put the third goal in for L.A. early in the third period, but there was no Coyotes response to that one.
Quick sure made some great saves, but he was helped out by the Coyotes' inability to keep the puck in the Kings' zone.
Smith, who gave up three goals, actually ended up with a higher save percentage than Quick, who let two in the goal.
Smith made 44 saves on 47 Kings shots, while Quick stopped just 25 of the Coyotes' 27 shots.
After the game, no one on the Coyotes' side seemed too concerned about falling behind in the series.
"It's one game at a time," Coyotes center Antoine Vermette said. "It's cliché, but we're going to start with the next one and go from there."
As for the Coyotes' play in game one, though, coach Dave Tippett wasn't exactly a fan of how it went down.
"We weren't close in that game," Tippett told reporters. "We got beat in every facet of the game. Hopefully we take some lessons from it and we can be better next game."