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Coyotes turn things around against Kings

by Jerry Brown /
GLENDALE, Ariz. –  Like most of the Phoenix Coyotes forwards, it has been a month to forget for Scottie Upshall. But the last home game of December finally yielded some good memories.

Without a single point for 10 games, Upshall broke loose with a goal and two assists during a four-goal Phoenix first period as the goal-challenged Coyotes erupted for a season-high six goals, chased Los Angeles goalie Jonathon Quick and beat the Kings 6-3 Wednesday night at Arena.

"We know that we don't have the most skilled group and it's got to be 60 minutes of work to win a game,” said Upshall, who had two goals and an assist at Minnesota on Dec. 1 – and nothing since.

"Everyone has to pull their weight. And when you can’t find the breaks, you can’t stop working. It was just one of those games where things were clicking."

Shane Doan added the 36th two-goal game of his career – the most by an active NHL player without a hat trick – and Keith Yandle had three assists. Phoenix team that has managed four goals in their last four games – leading coach Dave Tippett to call out his scorers after a 3-1 loss to Anaheim Tuesday –suddenly had 10 different players find the score sheet.

Doan, who has more goals (283) than any active player without a hat trick as well, rang a power-play blast off the post with five minutes left to keep his dubious streak intact. But he now has three goals in the last two games after scoring just four times in the first 23 games.

"It's not a story if I get (a hat trick), so I'll just keep it going,” Doan said. "You can feel the fans pulling for you out there, but it's OK. We won a huge game we needed and our offense got going. Once we got to two goals in the first period, I said 'Hey, that's a good thing, right?' I don't think we've scored six goals in three weeks."

Brett MacLean scored in his NHL debut for Phoenix, and Upshall, Ray Whitney and Kyle Turris also scored.

Brad Richardson, Ryan Smyth and Marco Sturm scored for the Kings, who followed a memorable 4-0 win in San Jose Monday with one they'd like to forget.

"We just didn't play in any area of the game," Los Angeles coach Terry Murray said. "This is a bad one. We've got another game tomorrow (against Philadelphia). You just put it in the trash and forget about it."

The Coyotes needed just 15:34 to score four goals – the most they have scored in a period all season. The Kings answered with three goals themselves in a period that more resembled ping-pong than hockey. But while the Coyotes kept scoring, Phoenix goalie Ilya Bryzgalov shut the door, stopping all 17 shots in the final two periods.

Quick, meanwhile, came in with the second-best goals-against average in the NHL (1.86), and had allowed two goals or less in 18 of 26 starts. But he was pulled after just 30 minutes, allowing six goals on 18 shots and has now surrendered nine goals in two games against Phoenix this season.

"We didn't give Quickie a chance on the first few goals, they were all back-door tap-ins," Kings captain Dustin Brown said. "We weren't ready to play from the start, and they jumped on us."

Phoenix has now won four straight over the Kings and is 15-5-2 in the last 22 meetings. Things are even more one-sided in games in Arizona, where the Coyotes are 24-7-3 dating back to 1999.

The Coyotes played without forwards Martin Hanzal, Taylor Pyatt and Radim Vrbata but got a lift from youngsters Turris and MacLean, who arrived from AHL San Antonio on Wednesday morning an had an immediate impact in his 13 minutes.

MacLean became the first NHL player to score in his debut since Kyle Palmieri of Anaheim on Nov. 3 against Tampa Bay. He's the first Coyote to score in his debut since Daniel Winnik (Oct. 4, 2007 against St. Louis).

"You don't think you'll ever score in your first game and be part of a big win like this … everything went perfectly tonight," said MacLean, the No. 32 pick at the 2007 NHL Entry Draft who scored 65 goals in 2½ seasons with San Antonio. "Playing with Kyle and Mikkel (Boedker), we have some chemistry from playing together in the minors and that made it easier and took away some of the nerves."

The Coyotes finished a four-game run through their Pacific Division foes at 2-2, winning at Dallas and home against the Kings and losing at Dallas and home against Anaheim. Tippett said he expects both Pyatt and Vrbata to be ready for the New Year’s Eve game in St. Louis.
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