GLENDALE, Ariz. – Peter Mueller’s 21-game goal drought is fading into memory.
Mueller scored twice in a 2:05 span of the second period and the Phoenix Coyotes beat the Colorado Avalanche 3-1 on Wednesday night.
“As soon as you get one they come in bunches,” said Mueller, who has three goals in three games. “You know, you’re not going into every game thinking this is going to be the game. You go in with a little more confidence knowing you can do it. So I just am going to put it behind me and hope it never happens again.”
Until scoring Friday in Los Angeles, Mueller was without a goal since Nov. 9.
“He’s got too much skill not to get chances and with hands as good as he has, pucks are going to go in the net,” Phoenix coach Wayne Gretzky said.
Olli Jokinen also scored, Shane Doan had a pair of assists, and Mikael Tellqvist made 28 saves in place of the ailing Ilya Bryzgalov, allowing only T.J. Hensick’s goal.
“It was a lucky bounce and they scored on it,” Tellqvist said. “I wasn’t especially nervous, it was just getting back into rhythm again.”
Phoenix won for the second time in three games, and has earned at least a point in nine of its last 11 games. The Coyotes also passed the Avalanche for seventh place in the Western Conference. Colorado had won its previous three games.
“They came at us pretty good in the second and we gave up way too many chances,” Avalanche coach Tony Granato said.
Mueller tied it 1-1 at 10:36 of the second after Peter Budaj misplayed the puck. Budaj dropped to his knees reached to cover the puck once at the left side of the crease, then a second time as it was tipped toward the net but missed on both attempts.
After a scrum behind the net, Mueller gained control of the puck just under the left faceoff circle near the goal line and rifled a wrist shot over Budaj’s blocker as the goalie scrambled back to his skates, dropping his stick in the process.
“It was kind of a freak goal,” Mueller said. “I thought he had it covered up but the puck kept getting loose. I just walked out. I saw he was still down so I just tried to put a shot up high.”
Mueller made it 2-1 just 2:05 later on a wrist shot from the bottom of the left faceoff circle into the top right corner of the net.
“You get one and suddenly the flood gates can open,” Doan said. “He’s probably the purest goal scorer we have on this team, for him to get hot he can carry us a long ways with how well he shoots the puck and how well he generates offence.”
Enver Lisin outraced the Avalanche defence to the puck and fed a pass to Jokinen for the goal on a wrist shot from the left circle and a 3-1 lead with 6:41 to go.
Hensick opened the scoring for Colorado, fighting off Phoenix defenceman David Hale in front of the net and sweeping the puck into the open right side of the net.
“He’s strong on his skates and gifted offensively,” Granato said. “We’re going to need him to score goals for us so it was good to see.”
Notes: Mueller has three goals in his last three games. … Colorado defenceman Brett Clark has two assists and three points in his last four games. … Hale had been a healthy scratch in 12 of Phoenix’s last 16 games. … Bryzgalov was a game-time scratch because of a sore back. Earlier Wednesday, Phoenix had recalled Josh Tordjman from San Antonio of the AHL on an emergency basis. … The Avalanche have been the Coyotes’ annual New Year’s Eve visitor each of the past two seasons and three times in the last four years. … The two teams don’t meet again until April 1.