The Coyotes were looking for a jump in offense after scoring two goals in two games in home losses to Chicago and Los Angeles. And two key players to the Phoenix offense, Martin Hanzal and Keith Yandle, responded with their first goals of the season as the Coyotes used three goals in the first eight minutes of the second period to beat Anaheim 5-4 on Sunday.
"It was good to see those guys get on the board for us. Hanzal had two big goals early in the game and Yandle wound up getting the game-winner," Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. "Boyd Gordon got his first goal as well. We're the kind of team where everybody has to contribute, so that game was a good sign."
Now Phoenix would like to see a few more sticks get hot as it opens a three-game homestand against the Dallas Stars tonight. The Coyotes had the Stars shut out for more than 59 minutes in Dallas on Oct. 10 before the Stars forced overtime and eventually prevailed 2-1 in a shootout. Phoenix had many offensive opportunities in that game to give ex-Star goalie Mike Smith a bigger cushion, and the season-high five goals against the Ducks is a positive sign.
"Dallas is playing a solid team game and they are willing a lot of close game like the one against us, Tippett said. "We've been kind of up and down and we'd like to put together a few games together and get on a run like Dallas has done. We gave up more goals than we'd like but in the end we did what we had to do to win. We want to clean some things up."
The Coyotes shook up their fourth line Sunday, trading center Petteri Nokelainen to Montreal and bringing up collegiate scoring machine Andy Miele from Portland of the AHL. Miele, getting a shot to provide some of the punch lost during the Kyle Turris contract holdout, had a two-goal, three assist game against Manchester last week, prompting the Coyotes to revamp their fourth line. Offensive-minded Patrick O'Sullivan got the start over enforcer Paul Bissonnette as well, although the selection between those two will likely be a game-time decision.
The game will also feature the return to Glendale of popular center Vernon Fiddler, who led the team in faceoff percentage and was a big part of Phoenix's back-to-back playoff runs from 2009-11. Fiddler signed with Dallas as a free agent in the summer, but the Coyotes have found his replacement to be a good fit so far.
Gordon currently leads the NHL in faceoff winning percentage at 63.8 percent and has won 53 of 79 draws (67 percent) over the last five games. Gordon not only scored his first goal against the Ducks, he won 12 of 17 faceoffs. He is also a main cog on the Phoenix power-play unit that has allowed just two goals since the season opener and stopped a potent Anaheim power play on all five chances (10 shots) on Sunday.