Nagy returned from a one-game benching to score a goal and add three assists in the Phoenix Coyotes’ 7-4 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday night. “I’ve got to move on,” Nagy said. “I can’t really think about it. I’m just trying to have fun on the ice and not really think about it. I’m just trying to do my best.” Nagy was benched by coach Gretzky for the third period of Phoenix’s 4-0 loss to Minnesota on Friday. Nagy then was a healthy scratch Saturday for the Coyotes’ 2-1 win in St. Louis.
“I know that he really took it to heart this week, wanted to rebound and wanted to have a great game,” Gretzky said. “I thought his work ethic was as good or better than it has been all season long. He did a lot of little things well tonight.”
Mike Zigomanis had two goals and an assist for the Coyotes, who have won three of four overall and four straight at home. Patrick Fischer had a goal and two assists, while Oleg Saprykin and Zbynek Michalek each had a goal and an assist. Shane Doan also scored.
Phoenix finished 6-6 in November after a 3-9 October.
“I think all around the atmosphere is way better,” Fischer said. “At the start it was rough and we were losing a lot of games and we got down. It was depressing.”
Derek Armstrong had two goals and an assist for the Kings, who had won two straight. Michael Cammalleri and Craig Conroy also scored for Los Angeles.
Fischer broke a 3-3 tie at 17:59 of the first period, beating reserve goalie Barry Brust on a long rebound from the low slot off Nagy’s shot.
“We had to throw a kid in and the kid wasn’t up to the challenge tonight,” Kings coach Mark Crawford said.
Conroy tied the game 39 seconds earlier with a power-play goal from the bottom of the right circle.
Doan extended the Coyotes’ lead to 5-3 on a power-play goal 55 seconds into the third period, blasting a shot from beyond the top of the left circle over Brust’s glove. Armstrong made it 5-4 at 7:33 of the second when he took a pass from Tom Kostopoulos in front of the net, faked Curtis Joseph to the ice and scored into the open top half of the net.
Zigomanis put Phoenix ahead 6-4 with 8:46 remaining on a wrist shot from the left boards. Zigomanis added his second with 4:06 to go, redirecting Michalek’s drive over a ducking Brust.
“Now that we have some confidence in our game and everyone is fine with the system, guys are finding their place on the team and things are working themselves out,” Zigomanis said.
Armstrong opened the scoring with a power-play goal at 2:14 of the first period when he redirected Lubomir Visnovsky’s shot past Joseph. Nagy tied the game at 4:06 with a breakaway off a long pass from Fischer, but Los Angeles regained a 2-1 lead on Cammalleri’s goal 11 seconds later.
Saprykin tied the score 2-2 when he beat Kings goalie Dan Cloutier from a tight angle to the left of the net. Michalek gave the Coyotes their first lead, 3-2, at 8:55 when he took advantage of a screen in front of the crease to score from the top of the right circle.
Phoenix had a goal waved off 99 seconds later when referee Dennis LaRue ruled he had blown his whistle moments before the puck trickled through Cloutier’s pads and into the net.
“It seemed like every shot had a chance for some reason,” Cloutier said. “It was one of those nights where Phoenix kept coming and we seemed like we wanted to exchange scoring, like we wanted to play a wide-open game, but we should know better than that.”
The disallowed goal wasn’t enough to save Cloutier, who was pulled in favour of Brust after allowing three goals on five shots in less than 10 minutes.
“We needed better goaltending tonight and Danny didn’t give it to us,” Crawford said. “I know that he wanted to play better and he’s capable of playing better and we’ve got to find a way to help him through this.”
Notes: The 23-year-old Brust, recalled from Manchester of the American Hockey League on Wednesday, was making his NHL debut. … Joseph made his 11th consecutive start for Phoenix. … In addition to the eight goals and 23 shots, the first period also featured a pair of fights. … With a 7-6 home record, Phoenix moved over .500 in Glendale for the first time since winning on opening night.