If you blinked, you might have missed the first half of the NHL's painfully compact post-lockout schedule.

If that's the case, know that, for the Kings, it went a little better than last season's first half. The team passed the halfway point Tuesday fourth in the Western Conference — three places better than last year — and riding a wave of momentum that had carried it to nine wins in 11 games.

But then, just like last year, the Kings started the second half with a thud, plodding through a listless 5-2 loss to the Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena.

"They were a refreshed team, we were a tired team. Simple," said Kings Coach Darryl Sutter, whose team was playing for the third time in four nights while Phoenix was playing for the first time this week.

Kings captain Dustin Brown wouldn't use that as an excuse, though.

"That's part of playing at this level," he said. "Even in an 82-game schedule, you're going to have games where you have to fly back to back and play.

"That's just a reality of playing in the NHL. And you've just got to be ready."