DENVER - The Phoenix Coyotes got a much-needed rebound win Wednesday night, knocking off the Colorado Avalanche 5-2 at the Pepsi Center to head into the All-Star break in sixth place in the Western Conference.
The Avalanche played like a team that needs a break after failing to take advantage of what should have been a beneficial schedule in January. Colorado posted a 5-6-1 record despite playing 10 of 12 games at home, where it went 4-5-1
"It is (a good time)," Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said. "We've played a lot of hockey up to this point and the break will be good for the guys to get re-energized. Certainly when we get back we need to be better, there's no question."
The Coyotes, who have won five consecutive road games, had vowed to put Tuesday night's stinging 4-3 loss to Edmonton behind them. The Oilers scored three third-period goals, the winner coming from Dustin Penner with 21.3 seconds remaining.
"We needed a response after our game last night," coach Dave Tippett said. "We didn't play very well. We gave up a lead in the third period and we were looking for a strong response from our team."
Tippett couldn't have asked for a better start.
After spotting the Avalanche a 1-0 lead on Ryan Stoa's goal at 4:20, the Coyotes roared back with 13 consecutive shots and goals from Scottie Upshall at 6:12 on a power play and Keith Yandle off a drop pass from Martin Hanzal during an odd-man rush at 13:59.
The Coyotes, who had lost four of their previous five games, outshot the Avalanche 14-1 in the opening period.
"I think we had the puck basically the whole period," said Yandle, who also had an assist and has 14 points (2 goals, 12 assists) during a nine-game point-scoring streak. "We got behind the eight-ball with them scoring first, but I think we came together pretty well."
Eric Belanger, who scored into an empty net with 51.5 seconds remaining in the game, collected what proved to be the decisive goal when he beat defenseman Adam Foote to the puck and nudged it inside the left post at 1:09 of the second period.
After getting a lone shot in the opening 20 minutes, the Avs launched 19 shots at goalie Ilya Bryzgalov in the second period but couldn't score.
"When you outshoot a team that bad in the first period, you know they're going to respond and come back out," Tippett said. "If you can stop some of that momentum early, that was a big factor for us. We knew they were going to come hard."
The Avalanche killed off three consecutive penalties in the period, including a double minor to Paul Stastny for high-sticking, and appeared to close within 3-2 at 15:18 when TJ Galiardi cruised in front to fire a loose puck into the net.
But the goal was immediately waved off because Avalanche forward Cody McLeod interfered with Bryzgalov.
"I don't know if I was in the crease," McLeod said. "It looked to me like they kind of pushed the net off. The ref made the call and (there's) nothing we can do about it now."
Said Galiardi: "We just tried to put that behind us because there's no point in dwelling on it."
The Avs were angry at the time because the back of the net was lifted by Phoenix's Sami Lepisto when Galiardi scored, drawing the wrath of Sacco and prompting the crowd to boo for most of the rest of the period.
Said Sacco: "I got an explanation, but you know what? That wasn't the reason why we lost this game."
The teams exchanged third-period goals, with the Coyotes' Kyle Turris scoring from the left circle at 12:54 and the Avalanche's Matt Duchene answering at 15:44 with his 20th goal of the season and 100th career point.
"We put ourselves in a hole," Stastny said. "It's tough to come back from a couple goals against a team like that. We started well for a couple shifts, but we just turned the puck over too much. We played into their hands. We tried forcing too many things and that gave them possession and power plays, and that gave them all the momentum and tons of shots on net."
Sacco replaced Budaj, who gave up two goals on nine shots, with Craig Anderson after Yandle's goal in an attempt to give the Avalanche a spark.
"I thought that was the right way to get them going," he said. "Peter wasn't at fault. I just thought it was the right time. We were not playing the way we are capable of playing, so I tried to change it up and get the guys going.
"In this League you have to be ready to start the game on time. With a team coming in like they did last night, for whatever reason we did not start the game on time. It's not good enough, no question. And really, at the end of the day, we ended up with the result because of that."
The Avs, who've been riddled with injuries since the preseason, lost left wing David Jones to a shoulder injury in the second period.
"We'll know more (Thursday)," Sacco said. "We have to deal with it. These things happen in the course of a year, so you just deal with it."