The Phoenix Coyotes are playing some of their best hockey of the season, but have to maintain that pace after dealing away one of their top offensive contributors.
Phoenix (16-20-2) looks for its season-high fourth straight win when they visit the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday, a day after trading center Mike Comrie to Ottawa for suspended Russian prospect Alexei Kaigorodov.
Despite missing 14 games with a broken foot, Comrie was tied with Shane Doan, Zbynek Michalek and Yanic Perreault for fourth in scoring with 20 points for the Coyotes. Comrie also was tied with Perreault for the team lead with four power-play goals.
Comrie, who is making $3 million this season and will be an unrestricted free agent July 1, made an immediate impact in his first game with his new team. He assisted on power-play goals by Tom Priessing and Wade Redden in Ottawa's 6-3 win over Eastern Conference-leading Buffalo.
The Coyotes are hoping Kaigorodov can make an impact for them down the road. The 23-year-old center, a second-round pick by Ottawa in 2002, recorded one assist in six games for the Senators this season. He left Ottawa for Russia earlier this season after refusing an AHL assignment and was suspended by the team.
The Coyotes matched a season-high with its third straight win, 3-2 over Washington on Monday after an 8-0 rout of San Jose on Saturday. Phoenix has picked up nine of a possible 10 points in its last five games, going 4-0-1 in that span.
"We're playing hard, and it really was a nice effort," said Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky, whose team is making the second stop on a five-game road trip. The Coyotes also will visit Atlanta, Chicago and Dallas.
Owen Nolan had a goal and assist in a three-goal first period, and Mikael Tellqvist finished with 30 saves.
"The last couple of weeks we've been playing really solid hockey, getting great goaltending, and everyone believes in each other right now," Nolan said. "In the beginning of the season, we were really down in the dumps and whatnot and everyone wrote us off. But we've proven to ourselves that we can compete with really good teams and we're taking that into every game now."
The Coyotes have struggled with the man advantage for much of the season, but have scored power-play goals in a season-high four straight games. Phoenix is 7-for-16 with the extra-skater during that stretch, and had a season high-tying five power-play goals in an 8-4 win on Dec. 3, 2005 over the eventual Stanley Cup champions.
Carolina (21-17-4) lost 3-0 to Pittsburgh on Tuesday for its third loss in four games after a season-high five-game winning streak. The Hurricanes have been outscored 12-3 in their last three losses.
"The effort, the execution, the attitude just weren't there," Hurricanes defenseman Glen Wesley said. "We've got to compete, and we've got to compete with an attitude. You're not going to win in this league with guys taking shifts off, you've got to go at it all the time."
Cam Ward made 34 saves in the defeat and lost his only career start against the Coyotes last season.
Phoenix's Curtis Joseph, who is tied with Jacques Plante for fifth on the NHL career wins list with 437, is 16-10 with four ties and a 2.82 goals-against average in 31 career starts versus the Hurricanes.