Captain Shane Doan thinks they should be even better.
Phoenix earned its third straight win and fifth in the first seven games of the season when defensemen Ed Jovanovski, Adrian Aucoin and Keith Yandle scored with assists from Doan in a 4-1 victory over the Boston Bruins on Saturday night.
The Coyotes won three in a row only twice last season, when they missed the playoffs for the seventh straight time. But despite a tumultuous summer caused by the team's uncertain future in Phoenix, the Coyotes are turning heads with 10 points already.
"You look at our season and we lost a one-goal lead in Buffalo with 10 minutes left and a 1-0 game to Columbus where I blew the tying goal," said Doan, who fought off a bout with the flu to double his point total for the season. "We've earned the record we have. It's not a fluke. We still have lots of areas where we can improve, but our goaltending has been phenomenal."
It was strong again against the Bruins as Ilya Bryzgalov made 22 saves to raise his record to 5-1 and lower goals-against average to 1.15 by allowing only four goals in his last five starts.
Boston, which got a second-period goal from Mark Stuart during 4-on-4 play, beat the Stars 3-0 in Dallas on Friday but struggled in a back-to-back situation on the road. The Coyotes are in the midst of a four-game homestand.
"Give Phoenix credit, they are playing extremely well and we just didn't have enough fight in us to counter that," Boston coach Claude Julien said. "They're hardworking from start to finish and they come at you hard."
The Coyotes, haven't allowed more than two goals in a game since a season-opening 6-3 win in Los Angeles on Oct. 3. They needed just 4:40 to take the lead for good. Jovanovski, who scored in overtime against St. Louis on Thursday, charged in from the point and slapped in Doan's feed just 15 seconds after Boston's Marc Savard was sent off for slashing.
"It was probably as close to a complete game that we've had all year," said Jovanovski, who is tied with Radim Vrbata for the team lead with three goals. "We pounced on them early with the power play and it kept rolling on.
"People are going to write what they're going to write and critics are going to criticize want they want, but we've got a pretty solid team. I wouldn't say great, but solid. But we can become great."
Aucoin made it 2-0 at 6:33 of the second when his shot dribbled through goalie Tim Thomas' pads. Stuart cut the lead in half, but the Boston-born Yandle answered with a power-play goal for Phoenix at 15:10.
Just 44 seconds later, Scottie Upshall made it 4-1, beating Thomas cleanly with a shot from the left wing.
Boston's first visit to Phoenix since 2007 drew an announced crowd of 9,162.
NOTES: Boston LW Milan Lucic was sent home after sustaining an undisclosed injury in Dallas. The Bruins recalled forward Guillame Lefebvre from Providence (AHL) . ... The Coyotes have allowed only one first-period goal in their first seven games. Boston D Derek Morris played his 800th NHL game against the team with which he spent the past four seasons. ... Bruins RW Blake Wheeler, the fifth overall pick by Phoenix in the 2004 draft, was booed every time he touched the puck. Wheeler had refused to sign with Phoenix and went to Boston as a free agent.
|PPG - Ed Jovanovski (3) ASST: Shane Doan (3), Matthew Lombardi (2)|
1 - 0 PHX
|Adrian Aucoin (1) ASST: Shane Doan (4), Keith Yandle (1)|
2 - 0 PHX
|Mark Stuart (1) ASST: Blake Wheeler (2), David Krejci (3)|
2 - 1 PHX
|PPG - Keith Yandle (1) ASST: Robert Lang (2), Shane Doan (5)|
3 - 1 PHX
|Scottie Upshall (3) ASST: Daniel Winnik (1), Zbynek Michalek (3)|
4 - 1 PHX
|Marc Savard Slashing against Radim Vrbata|
|Scottie Upshall Tripping against Marco Sturm|
|Zdeno Chara Tripping against Vernon Fiddler|
|Mark Recchi Hooking against Taylor Pyatt|
|Johnny Boychuk Fighting (maj) against Paul Bissonnette|
|Paul Bissonnette Fighting (maj) against Johnny Boychuk|
|Mark Recchi Hooking against Scottie Upshall|
|Ed Jovanovski Tripping against Blake Wheeler|