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Coyotes make it four straight

by Brian Compton /
Phoenix 's Ilya Bryzgalov is 2-for-2 against the Ducks since being waived by Anaheim almost two months ago.
There’s no place like home.

At least, right now.

After winning just five times in their first 16 home games this season, Wayne Gretzky’s Phoenix Coyotes are finally getting the job done – no pun intended – at Jobing.Com Arena.

Peter Mueller scored the lone goal in the shootout, and Ilya Bryzgalov denied all three of Anaheim’s shooters as the Coyotes won their third straight on home ice and their fourth overall in a 3-2 victory over the Ducks on Saturday night.

The three straight wins at home ties a season high for the Coyotes, who are just four points out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The victory also makes Bryzgalov – who was claimed off waivers from the Ducks nearly two months ago – 2-for-2 against his former club. Both victories have come via the shootout.

“It’s a big win for us, because we continue to try to climb in our playoff (race),” said Bryzgalov, who finished with 29 saves. “It’s not that far right now. If we can continue to play well in our defensive zone and score some goals, I think we’ll be fine. We’re not that far.”

Gretzky opted to go with Mueller in the opening round of the shootout, and the latter did not disappoint, as he beat Ducks goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere with a wrist shot. Bryzgalov denied Todd Bertuzzi, Ryan Getzlaf and Brandon Bochenski to secure the two points for Phoenix.

“I took an opening,” Mueller said of his tally. “He read that I was going to go between the legs, but he gave me an opening on the short left-hand side. This was very important; it was like a playoff game for us. We’re climbing up in the standings right now. We’re playing good hockey, so we’ve just got to keep it going. Hopefully we can get a couple of wins on the road.”

Giguere, who made 32 saves, admitted he wasn’t quite sure which route Mueller, just 19 years of age, was going to take on the breakaway.

''I tried to play him aggressively,'' Giguere said. ''Actually, I got a piece of the puck. It hit in the inside of my blocker, and went in.''

Anaheim jumped out to a 1-0 lead when Getzlaf beat Bryzgalov just 2:50 into the game. The talented forward was able to deflect a shot from Kent Huskins over the goal line for his 16th goal of the season. The Ducks held the lead until Shane Doan found the back of the net 1:46 into the second period, when he took a centering pass from Mueller and put it past Giguere to make it 1-1.

But the tie was short-lived, however, as Doug Weight scored at 2:23. The veteran center redirected a shot from Chris Kunitz past Bryzgalov following a turnover by Craig Weller. Steven Reinprecht tied things up when he scored on the power play with 6:33 to play in the middle frame.

''We would like to come out with two points, but we'll settle for the one,'' Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. ''I can't be disappointed by our work ethic and our effort.''

Gretzky certainly wasn’t disappointed with the way his team performed. The Coyotes will look to make it five in a row on Tuesday night when they visit the red-hot Calgary Flames.

''It was a playoff atmosphere in the building,'' Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky said. ''The intensity of the game was really solid and you need guys to step forward. I thought that was the best game our team played all season.''

Material from wire services and team online and broadcast media was used in this report.

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