The Phoenix Coyotes must stop the Los Angeles Kings' dominance on the road in the 2012 NHL playoffs, or they will head to the Staples Center down 0-2 with their chances of making the Stanley Cup Finals all but gone.
Given how good Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick has been in the playoffs, the Coyotes have to win Game 2 at home, or this series will end very quickly.
The Kings were the better team in nearly every facet of Game 1, and the Coyotes know they are facing a very confident team.
"They dominated,” said Phoenix captain Shane Doan.
“They’re a confident group right now. They feel they can win in every building. I think they’ve won six in a row on the road.”
One of the reasons Los Angeles is so confident right now is because Quick has been playing at an elite level throughout the playoffs and looks extremely poised in net.
The Coyotes' only two goals in Game 1 came from a fluke center-ice goal from Derek Morris and a lucky goal from Mikkel Boedker.
There aren't just a few areas the Coyotes need to improve in for Game 2; they need to improve in pretty much every aspect of the game.
They need to play smarter defensively, they need to forecheck better so they can pressure the Kings defenseman, they can't let Mike Smith face around 50 shots again and they have to stop the Dustin Brown, Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams line.
Stopping that line is priority No. 1 for the Coyotes, who won't win Game 2 if Kopitar and Brown continue to dominate offensively with their physical play.
Per the L.A. Times:
"That's a great line. Kopitar is really strong on the puck," said Coyotes center Martin Hanzal on Monday. "He can hold too. Brown can score and Williams, I think he is really an underrated player because he's got big skill."
That line accounted for four points and three of the Kings' four goals in Game 1, and if the Coyotes don't limit their production in the offensive zone, they can't win Game 2.
Stopping this trio starts with the Coyotes defense, especially Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who, by his own admission, was "terrible" in the series opener.
The Coyotes need to stop that line, play better defensively and score first on the Kings in Game 2 if they want to even the series.
They can't go down 0-2 heading on the road and expect to make a comeback in this series. Quick won't let the Kings lose a 2-0 lead when three of the next five games are in Los Angeles.
Tuesday's showdown is a must-win for the Coyotes, which is why you will see an inspired performance by them in the most important game of their season.
If they lose Game 2, the Coyotes probably won't come back to Jobing.com Arena for Game 5.
Nicholas Goss is an NHL Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report and was also the organization's on-site reporter for the 2011 Stanley Cup Final in Boston.