The Phoenix Coyotes’ return from the Olympic break got off to a less-than-stellar start.
Phoenix lost its first three after the break, including a monstrous third-period collapse against the St. Louis Blues.
But the Coyotes now appear to have righted the ship — at least for the moment — after a 3-1 win over the Florida Panthers on Tuesday to guarantee that they will earn at least four points on their current three-game road trip.
Phoenix goalie Mike Smith and right wing Radim Vrbata paced the Coyotes in their win over Florida, and the Coyotes never trailed in the game — nor was their lead ever seriously threatened.
Here’s a closer look at the win, by the numbers:
The Coyotes won back-to-back road games for the first time since doing so on Nov. 27 and Dec. 3 — a stretch of 40 games.
Newly acquired left wing Martin Erat logged just two minutes and 13 seconds of ice time in his second game with the Coyotes before leaving the game with an upper-body injury.
Vrbata led the way for the Coyotes offensively with three points, tallying two assists and a goal in the win over the Panthers.
The Coyotes locked up four of four possible points on their two-game Florida swing against the Tampa Bay Lightning and Panthers, and secured at least four points on their three game road trip, which ends Thursday against the Boston Bruins.
The lowly Panthers have scored just six goals in their last four games, have lost 10 of their last 13 and currently sit in 15th place out of 16 teams in the Eastern Conference.
The Coyotes continued their hunt for the No. 8 playoff spot in the Western Conference, and took control of the spot — at least temporarily, though the Dallas Stars took a one-point lead with their road win.
Smith made 31 saves against Florida, allowing only one shot to find the net — a fluky, redirected puck off the shaft of a stick — for a 97 percent save rate.