GLENDALE, Ariz. – Al Montoya’s making life in the NHL look easy.
Montoya made 31 saves in his second career start, and Scottie Upshall scored with 5:54 left to help the Phoenix Coyotes beat the Los Angeles Kings 2-1 on Thursday night. “To get a win at home, there’s nothing like it,” Montoya said. “I just want to keep making those saves and giving the team a chance to win every night.”
Montoya, the former Michigan star who shut out Colorado on Wednesday night in his NHL debut, has stopped 53 of 54 shots in his first two games.
“He made key saves when he needed to make key saves,” said coach Wayne Gretzky, who will start Montoya again Saturday in Los Angeles. “We’ve had an overall solid defensive effort two games in a row when we didn’t give up a lot of opportunities.”
Ed Jovanovski added a goal and an assist in the Coyotes’ fourth straight home win.
Derek Armstrong scored for Los Angeles, 1-5-1 in its last seven games.
Jovanovski tied it at 1-1 with 13:52 left, one-timing Shane Doan’s pass from the right boards past Jonathan Quick from the top right of the crease.
“We made eye contact coming down and he made one hell of a pass,” Jovanovski said.
Upshall gave Phoenix the lead eight minutes later, taking a pass from Matthew Lombardi as he rushed the net and beating Upshall with a quick wrist shot.
“We had two periods of lots of chances and not creating anything then we came in strong in the third and carried the momentum the rest of the game,” Upshall said.
Los Angeles opened the scoring late in the first period with some help from the Coyotes’ defence. David Hale was checked off the puck behind the Phoenix net, and Keith Yandle tried to clear the puck with a backhand swipe. But his pass went to Armstrong between the circles and the centre slid the puck between Montoya’s pads.
“It just ended up on my stick,” Armstrong said. “I closed my eyes, shot it and it goes in.”
Quick made 17 saves over the first two periods to maintain the Kings’ lead, including a pad save on Doan’s breakaway attempt with 4:37 left in the period.
“I thought he was our best player here tonight,” Kings coach Terry Murray said about Quick. “We didn’t generate a lot to test their goaltender very often.”
Notes: Doan moved within four points of Keith Tkachuk on the franchise’s career scoring list with his 619th point. … Armstrong’s last goal was Feb. 21, also against Phoenix. … The Coyotes are 5-0-1 in their past six home games and are 22-14-3 at home, their best mark in seven years.