NHL Playoffs 2012: 3 Stars from Game 1 of the Kings vs. Coyotes Series

Brad Kurtzberg@@sealshockeyContributor IMay 14, 2012

NHL Playoffs 2012: 3 Stars from Game 1 of the Kings vs. Coyotes Series

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    Game 1 of the Western Conference final is in the books and the Los Angeles Kings drew first blood with a hard-fought 4-2 win over the Phoenix Coyotes Sunday.

    With the victory, the Kings improve to 9-1 in the postseason. They also grabbed home-ice advantage away from the Coyotes.

    Here is a look at the three stars of Game 1 of this series.

3rd Star: Dwight King, Los Angeles

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    Dwight King scored two goals in this game and both of them were important. He scored on both of his shots on net and did it despite receiving less than 10 minutes of ice time.

    King's first goal gave Los Angeles a 2-1 lead midway through the second period and restored the momentum to the visiting team. His second goal of the night was an empty-netter that clinched the win for the Kings.

    It has been typical of this playoff run by the Los Angeles Kings that role players have stepped up and played an important role in several games, and Dwight King is just the latest player to make his mark.

2nd Star: Mike Smith, Phoenix

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    Mike Smith has been the biggest reason the Phoenix Coyotes reached the Western Conference final for the first time in franchise history and he was the best player on the ice for his team again tonight.

    Los Angeles fired 47 shots on goal in this game but Smith stopped 44 of them. He kept the Coyotes in this game until the final seconds despite the fact that they were outshot by a nearly 2-1 ratio.

    Smith continues to play with confidence and that clearly rubs off on his teammates. Phoenix will need continued great play from its netminder if it has a chance to defeat the Kings and reach the Stanley Cup Final.

1st Star: Dustin Brown, Los Angeles

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    Kings captain Dustin Brown scored the game-winning goal for Los Angeles in Game 1 and added a key assist as well, but his contributions went well beyond the points he scored.

    Brown has really been the spiritual leader of the Kings throughout their impressive playoff run, proving himself a very effective captain.

    In Game 1, Brown was second among forwards on the Kings with 19:34 of ice time, first on the team with seven shots on goal and tied for first with six hits.

    Other than Jonathan Quick, Brown has been the best player on the ice for the Kings in the postseason. If he keeps playing with this intensity, the Kings have a great chance to advance to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1993.