GLENDALE, Ariz. – After more than 1,000 games with the Phoenix Coyotes franchise, captain Shane Doan and his teammates are enjoying a new confident feeling.
“We feel that if we play the way we’re capable of playing we can beat anybody and that’s a great feeling to have,” said Doan, whose Coyotes beat the Los Angeles Kings 3-2 on Saturday night for their franchise record-tying ninth straight home win.
“We feel that it doesn’t matter what building we go in to, where we’re playing or who we’re playing. If we play our best game we can win.”
Keith Yandle scored with 9:20 to go, and Adrian Aucoin and Martin Hanzal also scored for the Coyotes, who matched the franchise record set from Dec. 27, 1992, to Jan. 23, 1993, when the team was in Winnipeg. Phoenix is 11-2-0 in its last 13 home games and has won six of its last eight overall. The Coyotes, who have not made the playoffs in seven years, are fourth place in the Western Conference.
Before the game, Doan was honoured for playing his 1,000th career game Oct. 16 in Columbus.
“Sometimes you wonder when you have a ceremony like that at the start of the game if it takes the zip out of the game but I thought both teams competed pretty hard,” Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said.
Los Angeles’ Michal Handzus scored a power-play goal at 3:58 of the third period, backhanding a rebound off Anze Kopitar’s shot to tie it at 2.
But Yandle came on as the trailer on a rush by Taylor Pyatt and Peter Mueller and took a pass from Pyatt between the circles. Jonathan Quick stopped Yandle’s initial shot, but the defenceman put the rebound home from the top left of the crease.
“They’re part of the committee,” Tippett said. “They’re not getting off the hook. We’ve got pretty good balance. That’s kind of who we are and what we have to be and our defence aren’t exempted from that.”
Ilya Bryzgalov made 23 saves for his 100th career victory.
Dustin Brown also scored for the Kings, who were playing for the first time in eight days. Los Angeles has lost three of its last four.
“It was huge,” Doan said. “It was not only sweet to win but we know where they’re at and they know where we are and it’s close. Every single came counts so much and we’ve got to find ways to keep winning.”
Los Angeles had a three-man advantage for the final 46 seconds courtesy of two Coyotes penalties and Quick being pulled for an extra attacker.
“Preferably you don’t want to be 6-on-3, that’s probably not the best advantage you can have,” Tippett said. “But our guys, give them credit. They hung around and Bryzgalov made a couple of good saves and we really didn’t get threatened on it.”
Ryan Smyth returned to the lineup for Los Angeles after missing six weeks with an upper-body injury and was reunited with linemates Brown and Justin Williams, but the lineup held for only two shifts.
Williams was taken off the ice on a stretcher after breaking his right leg at 4:27 of the first. Coyotes defenceman Ed Jovanovski was spinning off a check of Kopitar to hit Williams behind the Phoenix net when both players fell onto Williams.
Williams fell backward with his right leg trapped underneath his torso, dropped onto his back and remained on the ice as play continued briefly in the Kings’ end. He was taken off by stretcher after a lengthy delay.
“It’s not good,” said Kings coach Terry Murray. “We’ll take him back on the flight with us tonight, have the team doctors take a look and get the word out.”
Brown responded by giving the Kings a 1-0 lead 87 seconds later when he skated untouched between the circles and backhanded a long rebound at the top of the crease past Ilya Bryzgalov’s left skate.
“With Justin going down we rallied around that,” Brown said. “We knew it was pretty bad and we responded pretty well.”
Aucoin tied it at 8:45 on a one-timer off Robert Lang’s pass from behind the net.
Hanzal snapped a 1-1 tie at 13:56 of the first period when he won a faceoff to the left of Quick and chipped the puck off a pack of players on the front left edge of the crease. The puck deflected into the air and just past the outstretched left glove of defenceman Rob Scuderi into the right side of the net for an unassisted goal.
“I would have been disappointed if that faceoff goal had been the winning goal,” Murray said. “At least we tied it up.”
Midway through the third period, Jovanovski went to the ice after the left side of his face was driven into the glass by a hard hit by Brandon Segal. Jovanovski got to his skates and tried charging Segal, but was restrained by a lineman and guided to the bench.
NOTES: The game was played in front of announced crowed of 16,151, the Coyotes’ largest home crowd since the home opener against Columbus. … Segal and right wing Wayne Simmonds had been activated off the injured list by the Kings earlier Saturday and Jared Stoll was placed on injured reserve with a groin injury. … Doan is the 24th player in NHL history to play more than 1,000 games with the franchise who drafted him.