Wins don’t come much bigger than the one the Phoenix Coyotes delivered Monday night at Staples Center.
After a blowing an early, two-goal lead, the Coyotes found themselves trailing their bitter division rival, the Los Angeles Kings, 3-2 heading into the final period of play.
Keith Yandle got the late-game party started with a shot from the point that beat Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick glove side for the tying goal.
But they weren’t done there.
With a little over three minutes remaining, Kyle Chipchura brought possession into the offensive zone and Phoenix took full advantage. After a loose puck made its way from Shane Doan stick to Willie Mitchell’s skate to the left circle, veteran center Jeff Halpern fired towards the net and beat Quick as he was sprawling towards the right goal post. The puck passed the goal line but hit off Quick’s stick.
While initially play continued for 25 secods, upon further review Halpern was credited with his fourth goal of the year.
The tally proved to be the game winner, as Phoenix hung on for a 4-3 victory.
Here’s a look at the comeback win by the numbers:
Heading into the night, Los Angeles hadn’t lost a game all year when leading after two periods (21-0-0). That streak ended Monday thanks to goals by Halpern and Yandle.
Rob Klinkhammer started the scoring in Los Angeles with his second goal in as many games. Before his two-game hot streak, the left winger hadn’t scored in 19 straight games.
Without fail, the Coyotes continue to make life hard on themselves than it needs to be. After racing out to a 2-0 advantage, Phoenix surrendered three unanswered goals — to of which were the product of poor defensive plays by Michael Stone and Derek Morris. The Coyotes have now blown two-goal leads in as many games and four times in their last nine contests.
Top-line center Martin Hanzal returned after a seven-game absence due to a lower-body injury. Hanzal assisted on Klinkhammer’s goal and his effort along the boards in the offensive zone was more or less the reason Yandle received such a great scoring chance in the third period. Hanzal also won nine draws on the night.
The win marked Mike Smith’s 11th against the Kings in his career — more than any other team in the NHL. Smith stopped a game-high 36 shots out of a possible 39.
Phoenix seems to find success when Yandle scores. This season, the Coyotes are an impressive 6-1-0 — 12 out of a possible 14 points — when the veteran defenseman lights the lamp.
Antoine Vermette was a horse all night inside the faceoff circle. While he only won 14 of 31 draws, the Phoenix center won four big ones in the crucial third period.
With his goal, Yandle tied P.K. Subban with 48 points on the season — good for fourth place among all NHL blue liners.
Mikkel Boedker’s tally in the first period, his 11th away from Jobing.com Arena, gave Phoenix 50 on the power through 69 games. Only Washington (59) and Pittsburgh (55) have more.
Monday represented moving day in the Western Conference playoff race. With Dallas idle and losses by Minnesota, Vancouver and Winnipeg, Phoenix moved into sole possession of eight place with 77 points.