GLENDALE, Ariz. — Among Kings Coach Darryl Sutter's strong points are his bluntness and willingness to call out players who are underperforming.
On Tuesday night, after the Kings' 3-1 loss to Phoenix at Jobing.com Arena, Sutter gave an instant and pointed analysis of the Kings' penalty killing and of the 42 shots taken at Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith.
Although the Kings did an excellent job to kill off several disadvantages in the first period, including a brief five-on-three Phoenix advantage, an offensive-zone penalty by Justin Williams led to the Coyotes' second goal, by Shane Doan at 19 minutes 54 seconds of the second period, 1:35 after Derek Morris' double deflection had ended a scoreless tie.
"We didn't kill the one we had to," Sutter said. "We didn't get the puck out. We had an opportunity to make a play on the boards and didn't. That's tough with a few seconds left in the period."
The Kings never caught up, conceding a goal to Kyle Chipchura in the third period off a give-and-go on which goalie Ben Scrivens had little chance.
Jarret Stoll scored his first goal of the season, during a power play, at 16:39 of the third period, but it was far too little and much too late.
The Coyotes, playing in front of a small but vocal announced crowd of 10,452, improved to 5-0-1 at home. The Kings, who were headed home to face San Jose at Staples Center on Wednesday night, are 4-3-0 on the road.
The Kings had 42 shots at Smith, whom they chased from the net Thursday in a 7-4 victory at Staples, but Sutter wasn't impressed.
"I assume that we had 15 really good opportunities. How many of them were from our top players? Probably three or four," he said. "And our top players got scored on and didn't kill the penalty and took the penalty with a couples minutes left in the second period, and usually that leads to a loss."
It did Tuesday, though Scrivens couldn't be faulted in his second start as a member of the Kings.
"A couple tough bounces out there, but that's how you score goals in this league, from throwing pucks to the net and getting bodies there," he said. "Give credit where credit's due. They did a good job of getting guys to the front and getting the fortuitous hops. We've got to take what we can from it."
What they can take, team captain Dustin Brown said, is a lesson in restraint.
"I think we're in the top five in penalties taken this year, so we have to bring awareness to it individually and as a group," Brown said.
As for the penalty killing, which was led by a stalwart Willie Mitchell, Brown said, "we've got to get back to the details on it. A large part of that is taking less penalties. In the first period, there's just no rhythm one way or another."
The first period was scoreless, as Sutter mixed his lines to try and create a spark. The Kings got stronger as the game went on — they took 15 shots in the second period and 18 in the third — but Smith was up to the challenge.
The Kings have scored only one goal in each of their last two games. Brown is scoreless in nine games.
Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi has been watching the club's top prospects this week in Manchester, N.H. He might want to consider bringing a scorer back to Los Angeles with him.
Sutter said Scrivens was "really solid," and that can't be disputed. He was victimized on a double deflection on the Coyotes' first goal and a power-play goal on the second tally.
On the third, Chipchura finished off a give-and-go with David Moss to complete the "Gordie Howe hat trick" of a fighting penalty, a goal and an assist.
The puck glanced off Chipchura's foot and was reviewed but was determined to be legitimate.
Goalie Jonathan Quick is expected to face the Sharks on Wednesday night, ending a stretch of three games in four nights. Quick can only hope that his teammates end their parade to the penalty box and that the top players remember how to play like top players.