Back-to-back wins is nothing to get overly excited about, but it's a start for the last-place Phoenix Coyotes.
The Coyotes try to extend their first winning streak of the season - and match their longest one from all of last season - when they face the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center on Saturday.
Phoenix has been one of the league's most disappointing teams, sitting last in the Pacific Division with one of the NHL's worst records. The Coyotes expected better after adding veterans Ed Jovanovski, Owen Nolan and Jeremy Roenick in the offseason, but they have allowed 71 goals - most in the Western Conference - and have been outscored 17-5 during a three-game road losing streak.
Two nights after rallying for a 4-3 victory over Minnesota, Phoenix erased a third-period deficit on Thursday and beat Chicago 3-2 in a shootout, recording consecutive wins for the first time this season.
Yanic Perreault and Ladislav Nagy scored in the shootout and Curtis Joseph stopped two of three shots to go along with 32 saves in regulation and overtime.
"I think we're trying to get some momentum," said Perreault, who was signed by Phoenix as a free agent on Oct. 30. "Every game is tough. Tonight we had to come from behind again. We're taking one at a time and trying to win some games and trying to close the gap and get closer to the playoff race."
The Coyotes missed out on the playoffs for a third straight season in 2005-06, when they had a trio of three-game winning streaks but never had a four-game run.
Joseph has struggled behind a weak defense this season, but has been much better lately. The 17-year veteran has allowed eight goals in his last four starts after yielding 19 in his previous five.
In his only start against the Kings this season on Nov. 4, he was pulled in the first period after giving up two goals on three shots in the first seven minutes.
Injuries also have played a role in the Coyotes' slow start. Captain Shane Doan (back) and center Mike Comrie (foot), two of the team's top scorers, are both out of the lineup and neither will play Saturday.
Phoenix should get a boost when veteran forward Mike Ricci returns from a rehab assignment. Ricci, who suffered a neck injury during the offseason, will play two games in the minors this weekend and could be in the lineup by the end of the month.
The Kings also are having trouble keeping the puck out of their own net with 69 goals allowed, second-most in the West. Neither Mathieu Garon nor Dan Cloutier has played well enough to seize the No. 1 goaltending job, leaving coach Marc Crawford no choice but to alternate between the two.
Los Angeles suffered possibly its most disappointing loss of the season Thursday as it gave up three straight third-period goals in a 4-3 home loss to Philadelphia, falling to 1-3 on a five-game homestand.
"You don't like to give up a two-goal lead in your own building," Crawford said. "You should be able to close it off, especially with the group that we've got. We didn't, and we have ourselves to blame for it."
One bright spot for the Kings lately has been the play of left wing Alexander Frolov, who scored two goals for the second straight game Thursday. Frolov has six goals and 10 points in his last six games.
This is the third meeting between the Pacific Division rivals this season, but the first in Los Angeles. Garon stopped 40 shots in the Kings' 4-0 victory on Oct. 19, and the Coyotes scored five straight goals in a 6-4 win on Nov. 4.
Phoenix had not won in 13 straight trips to Los Angeles before winning the most recent meeting there, 6-2 on March 14.
|Apr 07 '07||PHX 2 at LAK 3||A. Kopitar|
|Apr 05 '07||LAK 2 at PHX 3||S. Doan|
|Jan 20 '07||PHX 3 at LAK 2||T. Roche|
|Dec 26 '06||PHX 3 at LAK 4 - SO||A. Kopitar|
|Nov 30 '06||LAK 4 at PHX 7||S. Doan|
|Nov 18 '06||PHX 3 at LAK 5||C. Conroy|
|Nov 04 '06||LAK 4 at PHX 6||E. Jovanovski|
|Oct 19 '06||LAK 4 at PHX 0||A. Frolov|