The Phoenix Coyotes appeared to be turning the corner with the addition of Ilya Bryzgalov. While he's helped in the goaltending department, Phoenix as a team has faltered lately.
The Coyotes hope to avoid their season-high fifth straight loss Wednesday night when they face the Pacific Division rival Los Angeles Kings.
After acquiring Bryzgalov off waivers from Anaheim on Nov. 17, Phoenix promptly reeled off a season-best four-game win streak, outscoring opponents 14-5. That hot stretch began with a home-and-home sweep of the Kings (10-14-2). Bryzgalov won both of those games while yielding just one goal in 57 shots.
The Coyotes (11-14-0), however, were unable to maintain that success on a winless four-game road trip in which they managed only five total goals. They concluded the trip Monday with a 3-1 defeat at Pittsburgh, wasting a 30-save effort from Bryzgalov.
Phoenix managed only nine shots over the first two periods, and committed penalties leading to eight power plays for the Penguins.
"We faced a team with a lot of talent," said Phoenix coach Wayne Gretzky, whose club allowed five power-play goals on the road trip while scoring only one of its own. "We're at the end of a trip and took a lot of unnecessary penalties, but the penalty kill worked hard. We didn't deserve to win this hockey game."
A weak offense continues to plague the Coyotes, who have scored a Western Conference-low 60 goals. Center Steven Reinprecht is second on the team with 16 points, but has only one goal in his last 10 games.
A return home might help Phoenix, which has won two straight and three of its last four at Jobing.com Arena after a six-game losing streak there.
Facing the Kings again could also help. Los Angeles owns the worst record in the West, and is 2-6-2 in its last 10 games.
Ladislav Nagy's goal with 1:28 left in regulation forced overtime Monday, but the Kings fell 4-3 in a shootout to visiting Edmonton.
"I think we outplayed them from start to finish, but Matty Garon played a helluva game in net," said Los Angeles right wing Dustin Brown, who scored his 11th goal of the season but was denied by Garon in the shootout. "He made more than a handful of saves that were Grade A - scrambling saves. We could have easily had six or seven goals tonight, but he kept the puck out of the net for them."
With regular starting goalie Jason LaBarbera sidelined after injuring his ribs during Saturday's loss to Colorado, Jean-Sebastien Aubin made 20 saves in his first start since Nov. 15.
Aubin, who likely will start again Wednesday, is 1-2-0 with a 3.38 GAA against the Coyotes.
Kopitar has been one of the few bright spots lately for the slumping Kings. The second-year center has four goals and two assists in his last five games.
The Coyotes have scored 20 total goals during a four-game home winning streak versus Los Angeles.