EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Kings have maintained their discipline and cool during a dominant playoff run that has them two wins away from the team's first Stanley Cup finals appearance since 1993 with Wayne Gretzky.
They've frustrated the Phoenix Coyotes with a mix of balanced scoring, shot-limiting defense and solid goaltending in building a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference finals. If the Coyotes are ticked off, and they sure played like it in losing Game Two, they face even more of an uphill climb in trying to stop the Kings on the road.
The Coyotes will have to do it without one of their top forwards. Martin Hanzal was suspended one game by the NHL on Wednesday for a huge hit on Kings captain Dustin Brown in Game Two.
Hanzal was assessed a major penalty and game misconduct for boarding at 11:01 of the third period Tuesday night. He will miss Game Three tonight at Staples Center (9, NBCSN).
The punishment wasn't severe enough, according to Kings center Jarret Stoll.
"Hopefully, he gets two games," Stoll said before the league's ruling came down. "Hopefully, he knew that Brownie was in a vulnerable position. If you're going to finish your check, maybe you grab him and you ride him in and then you close him that way on the boards. You don't shove him in the boards, especially when he's 5, 6 feet from the boards."
Speaking before Hanzal's punishment was announced, Coyotes captain Shane Doan said, "He's very, very valuable and obviously a huge part of our team. Hopefully, they'll understand it's a situation where he really didn't have a choice."
The game's other noteworthy hit was by Doan on Kings forward Trevor Lewis in the second period, when Lewis spun and faced the boards an instant before Doan hit him. Doan got a major boarding penalty and a game misconduct; Lewis' nose was bloodied after he was driven into the boards.
"The Doan thing was kind of tough," Stoll said. "It's a hockey play."
Coyotes coach Dave Tippett agreed.
"I know there's lots of focus put on hits from behind, but to me that's a hockey play where a player puts himself in a vulnerable position," he said. "If you've ever played the game, if you're in that position, in a split second if that guy turns, you can't stop."
The Kings bring a franchise-record seven-game playoff winning streak into Game Three, having outscored Phoenix, 8-2, so far in the series.