PHILADELPHIA – Good positioning means everything to Peter Mueller.
Mueller scored at 6:25 of the third period to break a tie and help the Phoenix Coyotes to a 3-2 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night. “I’ve been trying to get my body in front of the goalie more and it worked out good tonight,” Mueller said. Mueller punched in his own rebound during a wild goalmouth scramble after goalie Martin Biron had turned away shots by Zbynek Michalek and Steven Reinprecht.
“The first shot I hit (Biron) in the mask and it bounced right back to me,” Mueller said. “I just did a kind of spin-o-rama and put it in.”
Keith Yandle and Fredrik Sjostrom also scored for the Coyotes, who were coming off back-to-back road wins over the New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers. Phoenix has won four of its last five games, all on the road.
Yandle said that the Coyotes’ confidence has been given a big lift the past three games.
“Getting wins against those teams ranks as a big accomplishment,” Yandle said. “They’re not easy games to go into.”
Scott Hartnell and Mike Richards scored for the Flyers, who have a season-high four-game losing streak.
The Flyers have lost eight of their last nine games at home (1-6-2) since opening the season 6-0 in Philadelphia.
After the game, the Flyers’ players held a closed-door meeting for about 15 minutes.
“We talked about it as a team that we need to refocus and individually bring our best games to our team game every night,” Flyers captain Jason Smith said. “We’ve got to play a lot better, compete a lot better, and capitalize a lot better. We can’t be satisfied at working harder and losing games.”
Hartnell put the Flyers ahead on a power play at 12:03 of the first period when he redirected a pass from R.J. Umberger past Ilya Bryzgalov, who had 26 saves.
“We didn’t have any hits after period number one,” Phoenix coach Wayne Gretzky said, “We didn’t want to go out and think that we played a really good period. I was proud of how they responded afterwards.”
Richards made it 2-0 when he poke-checked the puck away from defenceman Ed Jovanovski near the blue-line and skated in to score unassisted at 7:21 of the second period.
The Coyotes scored twice in two minutes 31 seconds to pull even late in the second period.
After Yandle hammered in a rebound at 17:07, Sjostrom took a backhanded pass from Shane Doan and scored short-handed from the front of the left circle at 19:38.
It was the first goal of the season for Yandle, who was recalled from the minors Dec. 10.
Biron made 39 saves for the Flyers, who were outshot 42-28.
“I thought as the game wore on, they (Phoenix) dictated the style of game that they wanted to play,” Flyers coach John Stevens said. “We didn’t allow ourselves to dictate the style of play that we wanted to play.”
After the game, Philadelphia general manager Paul Holmgren announced that the Flyers acquired defenceman Jim Vandermeer from the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for left wing Ben Eager.
Notes: Philadelphia D Jason Smith played in his 900th NHL game. … Phoenix D Matt Jones and Mike Zigomanis were healthy scratches. … Philadelphia D Kimmo Timonen returned after missing two games with a lower-body injury. … The Coyotes played the fifth of a six game road trip, their longest of the season. … Philadelphia C Daniel Briere hit the post late in the second period. … The Flyers had won four of their previous five home games against Phoenix.