DENVER – Steven Reinprecht didn’t fight the switch.
If Phoenix coach Wayne Gretzky wanted to move him off the Shane Doan line, Reinprecht wasn’t going to complain. Reinprecht has quickly got used to his new linemates, scoring three goals in the Coyotes’ 5-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday night.
It was Reinprecht’s first hat trick since April 1, 2006, at San Jose. He now has four goals in two games against the Avalanche, a team he helped win a Stanley Cup in 2001.
Gretzky recently moved Reinprecht off Doan’s line to see if it would generate more scoring. So far, the move has been a success.
And no one’s feelings have been hurt, least of all those of Reinprecht.
“It’s fine,” Reinprecht said. “You will play with a lot of people. You have to mesh with the people you play with. The guys I’m playing with are easy to play with. The adjustment has been easy.”
Plus, Doan and Reinprecht are still paired together on power plays. Reinprecht scored his first goal on a power play in the first period, and Doan added the game winner on a power play with 3:11 remaining off a pass from Reinprecht.
Gretzky was simply hoping Reinprecht would understand when he moved him off Doan’s line.
“A lot of guys would not have liked that,” Gretzky said. “He handled it more like a professional than anybody. He worked well with his new people.
“Doan faces the top defencemen and top defensive forwards every night,” Gretzky added. “Maybe this has given Steven a little more room.”
So far, it has.
“It’s nice to be able to contribute,” said Reinprecht, who scored two goals within 62 seconds in the first period. “Sometimes, you have to just put the puck on net.”
Or be open to moving to a new line.
Marek Svatos, who scored both of Colorado’s goals, was called for tripping late in the third period of a tie game, setting up Doan’s one-timer past Peter Budaj.
Doan also had three assists, giving him 23 on the season.
The Coyotes added two short-handed, empty-net goals by Radim Vrbata and Reinprecht in the final minute after the Avalanche pulled Budaj and Fredrik Sjostrom was called for high sticking.
“We worked hard and it pays off at the end,” Gretzky said.
Svatos shrugged his shoulders when asked about the penalty on him.
“He made the call, he’s the referee,” Svatos said. “What are you going to do? It’s tough. A bad penalty by me cost us the game.”
Once again, Ilya Bryzgalov confounded the Avalanche, stopping 24 shots. He was coming off a game in which he tied a career high with 42 saves in a 4-3 shootout win over Colorado on New Year’s Eve.
Bryzgalov has played so well lately, it’s been hard for Gretzky to work in backup Mikael Tellqvist.
“We’re going to need Tellqvist to win some games,” Gretzky said. “I don’t want to lose him. On the other side, Bryzgalov has been so good, I don’t want to get him out of his flow, either.”
The Avalanche are definitely out of their flow, dropping their fourth straight game. Even more, Colorado has dropped three straight at Pepsi Center, a place where the team had been virtually unbeatable earlier in the season.
“We’re just looking for consistency across the board,” Avalanche coach Joel Quenneville said. “From young guys, old guys, that is what we want to bring.”
Colorado played without forward Ryan Smyth, who is out indefinitely with a sprained ankle. The team was already missing captain Joe Sakic, who underwent successful hernia surgery last week and is expected to be out eight to 12 weeks.
Not that the team wanted to use injuries to their stars as an excuse.
“We just need to find a way to win and put in extra work and be a little bit more dangerous around the net,” Ian Laperriere said.
Notes: The Avalanche recalled F T.J. Hensick from Lake Erie of the American Hockey League on Wednesday. … Colorado F Cody McCormick was scratched due to a minor hip ailment. … The Coyotes won their fifth straight road game.