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Smith, Coyotes ‘very frustrated’ after blowing late lead versus L.A.

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GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) Asked if he knew when he scored his last goal, Jordan Nolan put his head down in the locker room. He laughed a little.

“I couldn’t tell you,” Nolan said. “I don’t even want to look back on it. Just kind of forget about it and just move on.”

Nolan scored his first two goals of the season – and his first since April 2015 – to help the Los Angeles Kings edge the Arizona Coyotes 4-3 on Wednesday night.

“Just some puck luck, I guess,” Nolan said. “I feel like I got some good chances here and just fortunate to go in.”

Trevor Lewis scored the winner off a turnover with 4:05 left. The Kings withstood a late power play and an extra attacker to hold on for their sixth win in seven games.

Anze Kopitar had two assists and backup goalie Jeff Zatkoff, pressed into action to start the second period, faced 26 shots and made 25 saves.

Martin Hanzal scored twice for the Coyotes in the first period, with Michael Stone assisting on both. Mike Smith stopped 29 shots, but gave up two goals in the final 7 minutes.

“I thought he was unlucky,” Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said of Smith. “Made some great saves but was unlucky. I’m sure he’s very frustrated, just like the rest of us.”

The Coyotes pulled Smith for an extra attacker for the last 1:34, but couldn’t draw even.

The teams scored 9 seconds apart in the third period. Nolan’s second goal of the night came from a shot from behind the net that bounced off the back of Smith’s legs to give the Kings a 3-2 lead at 13:41 of the period.

“I see some of the top players kind of throw it at the net when they’re in the corner there,” Nolan said. “It goes in for them, so I thought why not give it a try?”

Arizona’s Tobias Rieder, who’d been a hard mark for Kings defenseman Drew Doughty for much of the game, took in a long pass from Alex Goligoski and got off a shot ahead of Doughty that beat Zatkoff at 13:50.

That set the stage for Lewis’ winner.

“We did a good job kind of weathering their push in the second and tied it,” Zatkoff said. “It was a gritty win. We probably didn’t play our best but it’s two points. Got contributions up and down the lineup.”

The Coyotes converted 2 of 6 power plays, the first successful power plays in the past five games. Nine of their last 10 games have been decided by one goal.

The Kings went 0 for 6 on power plays.

Forward Tyler Toffoli picked up two tripping penalties in the first 39 seconds of the game, the first which led to the Coyotes scoring their opening goal.

Toffoli was sent to the penalty box nine seconds into the game, and six seconds later, Hanzal deflected Radim Vrbata‘s shot into the net for a 1-0 Arizona lead.

Toffoli was whistled for tripping again at 39 seconds, but the Kings’ penalty kill unit prevented a second goal for those two minutes.

Los Angeles tied it at 12:25 of the first when Dustin Brown skated up ice, flipped a centering pass to Kopitar and got the puck back from Kopitar. Brown’s shot attempt was wide but it went to teammate Dwight King, who put the puck past Smith.

It was King’s fifth goal of the season.

The Coyotes went ahead 2-1 on Hanzal’s wrist shot that went off starting goalie Peter Budaj‘s stick and into the net at 18:32 of the period, again on the power play. Hanzal, with five goals, also has three two-point games this season.

Before that goal, the Coyotes, with Smith making several stops, thwarted a 5-on-3 opportunity the Kings had for 53 seconds in the first period.

Zatkoff got his first win as a King. He took over for Peter Budaj, who had four saves on six shots faced.

“Trying to win a game, right?” Kings coach Darryl Sutter said of his move to go with Zatkoff.

The Kings drew even again with Nolan’s goal at 10:14 of the second. Nolan’s backhand shot eluded Smith for his first goal of the season and first since April of 2015.

NOTES: Arizona’s Oliver Ekman-Larsson played after leaving Tuesday’s game at San Jose with an upper body injury, and logged an assist. … Arizona’s Shane Doan passed Wayne Gretzky for 19th place on the NHL’s career list.

Andrei Markov opts for KHL after saying goodbye to Canadiens

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Andrei Markov wanted to play his entire career with the Montreal Canadiens. With that option officially off the table, Markov announced that he’s headed for Russia and the KHL.

“I didn’t see myself with any other NHL team,” Markov said during a conference call wrapping up his lengthy stay with the Habs. “I didn’t see myself wearing another jersey.”

(At least not the jersey of another NHL team.)

The 38-year-old also noted that he hasn’t closed the door to a return to Montreal. That makes sense since it seems like it was largely the Canadiens’ decision to part ways with Markov, essentially replacing him with Mark Streit at a heavily discounted rate.

Beyond the comforts of home, Markov was almost certainly motivated to play in the KHL because of the 2018 Winter Olympics.

The veteran blueliner did not mention which KHL team he’ll end up playing for. There were some rumblings that Markov might sign with the Florida Panthers, but that turned out to not be true.

If it’s a one-year deal, a return to the Habs is at least feasible in 2018-19. Considering his age, it sure seems like this is the end of Markov’s lengthy run with the Canadiens, though.

After making NHL debut, Jones re-ups with Isles

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One of the Isles’ feel-good stories from last season wrote a new chapter on Thursday.

Connor Jones, the undrafted 26-year-old that made his NHL debut in April, has signed a one-year, two-way extension, the club announced.

Jones certainly earned his way to the show. He spent four years at Quinnipiac before catching on with the Oilers, spending time with both their AHL and ECHL affiliates before jumping to the Isles organization in 2015.

Though he’s not an offensive producer — just 19 points in 58 games with Bridgeport last season — Jones emerged as a good energy guy that proved an effective penalty killer.

With AHL Bridgeport, he also played alongside his twin brother, Kellen, who was in attendance as Connor made his NHL debut in April.

Connor would go on to play four games for the Isles, averaging just under 12 minutes per night.

Report: Dwight King could be KHL-bound

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Dwight King, the burly forward that won a pair of Stanley Cups in Los Angeles, may be on his way to Russia.

Per News 1130 in Vancouver, King is set to sign in the KHL after failing to land a contract this summer. The 28-year-old finished last season in Montreal after spending the first seven years of his NHL career in Los Angeles.

For a time, King was an effective skater for L.A. He posted a career-high 15 goals and 30 points during the ’13-14 campaign, and followed that up with a 13-goal, 26-point effort the year following. He also had a nice showing during the Kings’ 2014 Cup run, finishing with 11 points in 26 games.

King’s biggest issue is his skating ability. At 6-foot-4, 229 pounds, he was never the fleetest of foot, but had been working on his speed this offseason.

More, from Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman:

King is still looking for work after finishing the season in Montreal. There are a few Western Conference teams poking around.

“I’m just looking for an opportunity at this point. I’m going to be on the ice more this year, doing a little more skills and skating. Any bit of improvement I can find.”

King is going to try a couple new teachers, then decide which route to take. One also works with former teammate (and new Golden Knight) Brayden McNabb. King is quite the physical specimen, but will take a new approach. He regularly played at 230–231 pounds, but is going to go to 225–226. And he believes the Western Conference is better for him.

News 1130 reported that Vancouver had shown “mild interest” in King, who just wrapped a three-year $5.85 million deal with a $1.95M cap hit.

King appeared in 17 games for the Habs after being picked up at the deadline last season, scoring once. He went pointless in six playoff games.

McLellan excited about addition of ‘utility player’ Strome

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To hear Todd McLellan explain it, Ryan Strome could be wearing many hats next season.

That’s what the Oilers head coach said on Wednesday of the former Isles forward, acquired earlier this summer in the Jordan Eberle trade. McLellan expressed excitement over Strome’s ability to play both center and wing.

“He (Strome) is a utility player,” McLellan said, per the Sun. “He has the ability to play center and has in the past. He’s been able to win faceoffs and he’s comfortable on the wing. We have the luxury of moving players around, and as the fans here know, we like to do that.”

That last sentence is clearly a reference to Leon Draisaitl. Draisaitl has flipped back and forth between playing as Edmonton’s No. 2 center and as a winger on the top line alongside Connor McDavid. The talented German’s had success at both, which is why Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli is still unsure if Draisaitl is a center or a winger.

More: Strome pumped at prospect of playing with Draisaitl, McDavid

As for Strome, he certainly gives Edmonton some flexibility — on the ice, and on the books.

With a $2.5 million cap hit (compared to Eberle’s $6M), he’s provided Chiarelli with more cap space to get the Draisaitl contract done. And there’s also the potential for him to be a real bargain. Remember, Strome is only two years removed from a sophomore campaign in which he scored 17 goals and 50 points in 81 contests. His subsequent two years with the Isles were a disappointment, but the talent is still there.

The wildcard in all this is the fact that Strome’s heading into a contract year. He’ll be a restricted free agent next July, so the ’17-18 campaign will go a long way in determining his value… and, potentially, his future in Edmonton.