Spring is here, and the Phoenix Coyotes are playing hotter hockey than they had all winter, dating back to Oct. 25, as a matter of fact.
The team’s three-game winning streak, which was perpetuated Thursday in a win over the Florida Panthers at Jobing.com Arena, is the longest such streak since what they put together between Oct. 25 and Nov. 5 of 2013, when they won five in a row.
And they didn’t waste time in the effort Thursday, jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the first period, which goaltender Mike Smith would ultimately keep intact.
Here’s a look at the comeback win by the numbers:
The Coyotes found themselves on the scoreboard almost right away against the Panthers Thursday, as Radim Vrbata notched his 20th goal of the season, sneaking a rebound power play shot past Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo, with assists coming from Martin Hanzal and Oliver Ekman-Larsson on the score.
With the points from the win, the Coyotes are now four points ahead of the Dallas Stars for the second Wild Card spot in the Western Conference playoff race. Phoenix has played one more game than Dallas thus far this season.
The Coyotes took 11 penalty minutes in the win, including a five-minute major taken by defenseman Chris Summers for fighting Panthers right wing Joey Crabb.
Hanzal’s assist in the first period helped improve the Coyotes’ record to 15-4-2 this season when the center has records a helper. He has 23 on the season.
Vrbata’s goal made him just the second player active on the Coyotes’ roster to record 20 goals and 20 assists on the season. Center Antoine Vermette (23 goals and 20 assists) is the only other player to accomplish the feat, while Captain Shane Doan remains one goal shy of becoming a member of the 20-20 club.
Smith saved 22 shots against the Panthers Thursday, allowing just one goal. His effort was good for a .957 save percentage. Smith has 87 saves during the Coyotes’ three-game winning streak. He has allowed six goals in the run.
Smith made his NHL-leading 59th start of the season on Thursday. It was also his 10th consecutive in between the pipes.
The Coyotes were one-for-one on power play opportunities Thursday against the Panthers while holding their opponent to an 0-for-3 deficit in the category.