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Coyotes must rebound from opening loss at home

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Phoenix Coyotes survived stretches of playing on their heels in the playoffs' first two rounds, absorbing everything the opponent threw at them before counterpunching with a winning goal.

Against the Los Angeles Kings, they quickly learned that method won't work.

More skilled and equally tenacious as Phoenix, the Kings hit the Coyotes hard and kept coming in Game One of the Western Conference finals, rolling to a 4-2 win Sunday night.

With Game Two tonight (9 p.m., NBCSN) in the desert, the Coyotes have a short turnaround to figure out a way to stop this Los Angeles juggernaut or it could end up being a short series.

"We know we need to be better," Coyotes forward Boyd Gordon said Monday after practice. "They're a very good team, they work hard, they compete and they battle. If we come out like we did in Game One we'll be in big trouble."

The Kings have been doing this all playoffs.

The West's last team to get in, Los Angeles has arguably been the NHL's best team in the playoffs, its combination of grit, skill and superb goaltending overwhelming opponents.

The Kings knocked off No. 1 seed Vancouver in five games, swept second-seeded St. Louis in the second round and dominated Phoenix in the opener of the conference finals.

With a week off since beating the Blues, Los Angeles picked up where it left off instead of showing any signs of rust, attacking the Coyotes from the opening faceoff. The Kings outshot Phoenix, 17-4, in the first period, overcame two miscues by usually steady goalie Jonathan Quick and didn't give the Coyotes much of a chance to fight back after Dustin Brown scored early in the third period.

Dwight King sealed it with his second goal of the night into an empty net, sending Los Angeles to its sixth straight road playoff victory -- one short of the NHL record for one postseason -- and another surge along its wave of momentum.

These Kings are on such a roll they don't care who's on the ice against them; just line up and go after the players in front of you, whoever they are.

"We know how we play and don't worry about the matchups," Kings center Jarret Stoll said. "We know all four lines can play, all four centermen can play in every situation. When you have that, that's pretty important to the team."


Hunter leaves Caps

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Dale Hunter quit as coach of the Washington Capitals on Monday after less than one full season in the job, telling the team he wants to return to his family in Canada.

"It was the right thing to do," Hunter said.

He is the owner of the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League, a junior hockey team currently playing for the Memorial Cup. One of his three children is an assistant coach with the Knights, and Hunter's brother Mark took over as head coach when Hunter left to join the Capitals in November, replacing the fired Bruce Boudreau.

"I'm going home," Hunter said, a couple of hours after delivering the news to Capitals General Manager George McPhee. "I've got a good thing going there with the family."

Hunter met with McPhee at the team's practice facility on Monday morning, two days after the Capitals were eliminated from the playoffs in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

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