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Vermette, Dubnyk lead Coyotes past Flyers

by Jerry Brown / NHL.com

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Building a three-goal lead has been as hard for the Arizona Coyotes this season as putting together a three-game winning streak.

The Coyotes managed to do both Monday, but not without a struggle.

Antoine Vermette had two goals and an assist, and Devan Dubnyk continued a strong run of goaltending with 30 saves to give the Coyotes a 4-2 win against the Philadelphia Flyers.

The Coyotes matched their longest winning streak of the season at three games and won a game in regulation at Gila River Arena for the first time since a 3-2 victory against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Nov. 4. The Coyotes last won three straight from Nov. 2-7.

The Coyotes had a 3-0 lead at home on Nov. 25 against the Colorado Avalanche, only to lose 4-3 in overtime. They led the Flyers 3-0, but this one got tight as well.

Arizona (14-18-4) led 3-0 before R.J. Umberger scored goals 3:02 apart in the third period to pull the Flyers within one with 4:47 left to play. But Dubnyk went post-to-post to stop Vincent Lecavalier with 50.1 seconds to preserve the lead, and Vermette scored his second of the night into an empty net with 28 seconds left.

Vermette was originally credited with a first-period goal that was later changed back to captain Shane Doan, but wasn't concerned that he lost out on a fourth career hat trick.

"I tried to touch it. I swung my stick pretty hard and it changed direction somehow," said Vermette, who became the first Coyote to reach 10 goals this season.. "But I know we won and that's what is most important."

Defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson had what proved to be the game-winning goal when he scored early in the third period for the Coyotes, who have won three straight at Gila River Arena since setting a franchise record with nine straight losses on home ice.

Five of Ekman-Larsson's nine goals this season are game-winners.

"We gave up a lot of chances; let's not beat around the bush," Arizona coach Dave Tippett said. "We were able to get the lead on a fortunate goal and we capitalized on some opportunities and we battled through the third period.

Dubnyk, who has taken the starting job from the struggling Mike Smith, has stopped 91 of 95 shots in the past three games. He has nine of Arizona's 14 wins, but this one turned into a struggle in the final minutes.

"When you have guys with that much skill they're capable of making plays and making a push," Dubnyk said. "They made a nice pay to get the (first) goal. Obviously it would have been nice to get the shutout but it feels extra good to win the way we did as well."

Umberger pulled the Flyers (14-16-6) within 3-1 when he scored at 12:11 off a Mark Streit feed, then tipped home a Sean Couturier shot on the power play with 4:47 left to make it 3-2.

"It's good to help out you team and give them a chance," he said. "We had a chance there at the end and these are two points that were critical for us. We're fighting had to get back to .500 and we needed to get back there and get rolling. These points are a lot easier to get now than in March or April."

Mason made 21 saves in his return from a back injury sustained on Dec. 19.

"I felt really good out there, but it was a tough game to play," said Mason, who is now 4-8-0 against the Coyotes. "It wasn't exactly the cleanest game. There were a lot of bounces out there."

Arizona was outshot 14-6 in the first period, and the Flyers controlled most of the play. But Dubnyk made big saves on Jakub Voracek in the slot, Brayden Schenn from the circle and Wayne Simmonds with his pad.

When the Coyotes got a chance late in the period, they made the most of it. Vermette raced into the Philadelphia zone, dropped a pass to Doan and kept charging toward to net. Doan's slap shot hit a Flyer defender, not Vermette as originally thought, and went past Mason on the short side at 18:26.

The Coyotes took that momentum into a second period, when they controlled the play and doubled their lead.

Mason made a nice save on Tobias Rieder's backhanded scoring bid and another on a chance in tight by Doan, but Vermette got him again at 15:31. Good work along the boards by Sam Gagner led to a shot from the point by defenseman Zbynek Michalek. Mason stopped it, but the rebound popped right to Vermette in the crease; he fought off Streit and had plenty of room to put it away.

The Coyotes took a three-goal lead early on the third period after Scott Laughton hooked down Rieder in the slot. Mikkel Boedker set up Ekman-Larson for a shot that beat Mason to the far corner at 2:48 at the Coyotes had a rare and, for a short time, comfortable 3-0 lead.

Tippett said Dubnyk, signed as a free agent after bouncing around three teams last season, was the difference.

"(Dubnyk) had a really tough year and he came in with a great attitude and just looking for an opportunity," Tippett said. "I think he's played solid all year and that's what you're looking for."

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