After losing four straight – including the first three of a four-game trip – Phoenix avoided their worst start since moving to Phoenix 10 years ago by beating St. Louis 5-2 on Tuesday night. The Coyotes never trailed and they got a lift from Nolan, who scored for the first time in two years during a three-goal, third-period spurt.
“We had a good talk before the game and we just looked at everyone and said, ‘Let’s get a fresh start,”‘ Nolan said. “We had a good attitude out there. We came to work tonight and it paid off for us.”
Nolan sat out last season with a knee injury following the year-long lockout. He scored 19 of his 349 career goals with Toronto before missing the final three games of the 2003-04 season.
The Coyotes’ scoring spree against St. Louis gave them as many goals as they had in the losing streak. Following a 6-3 victory to open the season, Phoenix (2-4) struggled to score.
Phoenix began last season with five losses and three points in its first six games, the worst opening since the franchise relocated from Canada. In the last season as the Winnipeg Jets, they earned only one victory and four points in eight games.
Mike Comrie and Mike Zigomanis also scored in the third period to put the game out of reach. Nolan made it 4-2 with just over five minutes left and about 12 minutes after Comrie scored the game’s only power-play goal. Zigomanis notched his first of the season in the final minute.
Dave Scatchard and Shane Doan also scored for the Coyotes, who matched their total scoring output from the previous four games.
“The confidence in our hockey club was very, very minimal,” coach Wayne Gretzky said. “They really battled through this the last few days. It’s nice to get a win.”
Radek Dvorak scored his second of the season and Martin Rucinsky had his third for the Blues, who played in front of a sparse crowd. The attendance, announced at 8,531 appeared much smaller and was held down because of the St. Louis Cardinals’ home playoff baseball game.
The Blues (2-3-1) lost their first three games of the season before returning home and winning two before Tuesday. They had their chances to stay in the game against the Coyotes but failed to score on eight power-play opportunities.
“Why didn’t we have an attitude to go in and build on something that we had going well,” St. Louis coach Mike Kitchen said. “Today, we thought we’d put the equipment on and we’ll win the hockey game. It was a very disappointing effort.”
Notes: The Blues’ 27 shots were their fewest in six games this season. … The loudest cheers came when replays were shown of the Cardinals scoring runs in Game 5 of the NL championship series against the New York Mets.