The Phoenix Coyotes have turned Jobing.com Arena into one of the toughest places in the NHL to play -- and local fans are taking notice.
The Coyotes tied a franchise record with their ninth consecutive home victory on Saturday as Keith Yandle scored the go-ahead goal in a 3-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings.
It's the longest home winning streak for the Coyotes since they moved from Winnipeg in 1996 and matched the franchise record set from Dec. 27, 1992, to Jan. 23, 1993. Phoenix is 11-2-0 in its last 13 home games and has won six of its last eight overall as it tries to make the playoffs for the first time since 2002.
"We feel that if we play the way we're capable of playing we can beat anybody -- and that's a great feeling to have," captain Shane Doan said.
This win came before an announced crowd of 16,131 fans, the largest of the season since an opening-night sellout. It's a big turnout for a franchise that went through a bankruptcy proceeding this summer, limiting the team's ability to market itself.
"It's huge when you have the building like this," said Doan, who was honored before the opening faceoff for reaching the 1,000-game mark last week. "We're trying to create a home-ice advantage. It's coming."
The Kings trailed 2-1 after two periods, but tied it 3:58 into the third when Michal Handzus backhanded the rebound of Anze Kopitar's shot past Ilya Bryzgalov.
But Yandle put Phoenix ahead to stay when he came on as the trailer on a rush by Taylor Pyatt and Peter Mueller. He took a pass from Pyatt between the circles and fired a shot that Jonathan Quick stopped. But Yandle crashed the net and knocked in the rebound from the top left of the crease.
"He turned it over a couple of times, but give him credit -- he stayed with it and made a great play," coach Dave Tippett said.
Said Doan: "He's a riverboat gambler. He and Jovo (Ed Jovanovski) make things happen on the blue line."
The Coyotes had to survive a 6-on-3 power play by the Kings in the final 48 seconds after Phoenix took two penalties and the Kings pulled Quick.
The win gave the Coyotes 50 points and kept them three behind Pacific Division-leading San Jose -- and moved them three ahead of Los Angeles.
"It was huge," Doan said of beating the Kings, who had won their previous two trips to Arizona. "It was not only sweet to win but we know where they're at and they know where we are and it's close. Every single came counts so much, and we've got to find ways to keep winning."
The Kings, playing for the first time in eight days, lost for the third time in four games.
Brown gave the Kings a 1-0 lead when he skated untouched between the circles and backhanded a long rebound at the top of the crease past Bryzgalov's left skate.
Aucoin tied it at 8:45 on a one-timer off Robert Lang's pass from behind the net. Hanzal snapped the tie at 13:56 when he won a faceoff to the left of Quick and chipped the puck off a pack of players on the front left edge of the crease. The puck deflected into the air and just past the outstretched left glove of Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi into the right side of the net for an unassisted goal.
"I would have been disappointed if that faceoff goal had been the winning goal," Kings coach Terry Murray said. "At least we tied it up."
The Kings were buoyed by the return from injury of top-line left wing Ryan Smyth, forward Wayne Simmonds and defenseman Jack Johnson. But they lost their first-line right wing, Justin Williams, who was taken off the ice 4:27 into the game after a collision with what Murray later said was a broken right leg, according to the team's Web site.
Jovanovski checked Kopitar back into Williams and both players fell on top of the 28-year-old as his knee buckled.
Brown's goal came just over a minute after Williams was taken off the ice.
"With Justin going down we rallied around that," Brown said. "We knew it was pretty bad, and we responded pretty well."
Material from team media and wire services was used in this report
1 - 0 LAK
1 - 1 Tie
2 - 1 PHX
2 - 2 Tie
3 - 2 PHX
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Interference on goalkeeper