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Coyotes thriving on power play of late, halfway to franchise record

After losing a season-high four in a row, the Phoenix Coyotes are in the midst of a modest two-game win streak following an exciting 3-2 victory over the New Jersey Devils Saturday night at Arena.

The return of stay-at-home defenseman Zbynek Michalek has been key in the turnaround, as has the mindset change and subsequent improved play from goaltender Mike Smith.

But lost beneath what has been a rather turbulent month for the team has been its recent streak on the power play.

Extended with Martin Hanzal’s tally in the second period of Saturday’s non-conference battle with the Devils, the Coyotes have now scored at least one goal on the man advantage in seven straight contests.

“I thought we got pucks to the net and you get a few breaks here and there,” Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett said Saturday. “Marty [Brodeur] is big in front of the net, but we got one and it ended up being a big goal for us.”

It was, as Hanzal’s special teams score proved to be the game winner. In the process, the first-line center’s 14th goal of the season also put Phoenix’s power play streak at the halfway mark of the franchise-record (14 straight games) — set by the Winnipeg Jets during the 1988-89 campaign.

The steak, which was started back on Jan. 7 with a third period goal by Rob Klinkhammer in a 6-0 win over the Calgary Flames, comes on the heels of a 1-of-17 performance the Coyotes had put together in their previous five games.

According to Hanzal, the difference has been a simple one. Phoenix is starting to put more and more pucks on nets.

“That’s the key [on the power play], we have to put more shots through,” Hanzal said. “And if you go to the net, [scoring goals] is what happens.”

Through 48 games, the Coyotes are ranked No. 9 in both power play percentage (19.8) and power play goals (33).