Coyotes beat slumping Kings on Fischer’s OT goal
GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Arizona Coyotes didn’t give up on the season despite losing their first 11 games. They didn’t give up on Friday’s game despite twice blowing leads — once in the third period.
And, now, despite all their setbacks to date during a shaky first two months of the season, they’re finally playing the way coach Rick Tocchet expected they would.
Christian Fischer scored at 2:42 of overtime off a rebound of Christian Dvorak’s shot and the Coyotes overcame two blown leads to beat the slumping Los Angeles Kings 3-2 on Friday night, their fourth win in five games.
Scott Wedgewood stopped 23 shots while filling in for the injured Antti Raanta as Arizona finally beat a Western Conference foe after starting the season 0-8-2 against its rivals. The Coyotes also won for only the second time this season at Gila River Arena — both times in overtime — and now are 2-7-1 there.
“Fisch (Fischer) was all over the ice, and it was fitting he scored the game-winning goal,” Tocchet said of a team that came in with the NHL’s worst record. “Dvorak’s line was good. ... That’s what you’re looking for, you’re looking for ... not guys to play outstanding, but good guys. We didn’t have many passengers tonight, and I think that was the key. We didn’t have a lot of guys having off nights.”
Kings backup goalie Darcy Kuemper stopped Alex Goligoski on an unimpeded breakaway early in the overtime, but couldn’t make the save on the winning goal as Dvorak’s wrist shot deflected wide and Fischer, skating hard to the net, put it into the net for his sixth goal.
Despite Kuemper’s 30 saves, the Kings lost for the seventh time in eight games after starting 11-2-2. They’ve scored only 11 goals during those seven losses.
“The guys played hard there, battled back in the third and got us a point there. But we’d like to get two out of that situation,” Los Angeles coach John Stevens said.
Brendan Perlini and Oliver Ekman-Larsson also scored for the Coyotes. Ekman-Larsson, a defenseman who has two goals and five points in his last four games, beat Kuemper with a slap shot from the left point on a power play at 10:17 of the opening period — the first goal allowed by Kuemper in 117 minutes, 33 seconds.
Perlini scored for a third consecutive game, making it 2-1 late in the second by redirecting Goligoski’s slap shot and causing it to quickly change direction as it sailed by Kuemper for his seventh goal.
“I was coming in the middle, trying to get a stick on it, and luckily I did and got it in off the post,” Perlini said. “I know they’ve been on a little bit of a slide, so we knew they were coming to come out pretty desperate. And when a team comes out desperate you’ve got to be on your toes.”
Marian Gaborik gave the Kings a lift by playing for the first time this season after missing 22 games with a lower-body injury. In his first game since April 9, Gaborik set up Los Angeles’ initial goal with an exceptional pass to captain Anze Kopitar, who scored his 10th early in the second period with an extra attacker on the ice during a delayed penalty situation.
“The key is now he’s ramped up to play a game,” Stevens said of the 35-year-old Gaborik, who needs four goals for 400 in his career. “I thought he was excellent, he skated well, he wanted the puck and he competed well. Which is hard for being out as long as he has.”
Said Gaborik: “After a few shifts, I felt better but it’s too bad with the outcome. We had a few chances, and it’s unfortunate it didn’t work out.”
Arizona led 2-1 going into the third, but Trevor Lewis scored the second tying goal of the game for the Kings at 2:42, nudging a loose puck in the crease past Wedgewood for his seventh of the season.
Kuemper, who started as the Kings played the first of two games in as many nights, is 3-0-2 in his career against the Coyotes.
Arizona didn’t draw a penalty until Wedgewood was called for holding behind the net with 4:38 remaining, but the Coyotes killed off that penalty. Arizona was 1-for-4 on the power play.
NOTES: Kings RW Marian Gaborik (lower-body injury) played for the first time since April 9; he missed the first 22 games of this season. Gaborik needs four goals to reach 400 for his career. ... Coyotes G Antti Raanta (upper-body injury) remained out after getting injured in the first period Wednesday against San Jose. He also will miss, at a minimum, the Saturday night game against Vegas. ... With the Kings playing a back-to-back and G Jonathan Quick stuck in a six-game losing streak, backup G Darcy Kuemper started. ... The Coyotes scratched RW Mario Kempe, the brother of Kings LW Adrian Kempe, for a fourth consecutive game. ... Kings C Alex Iafallo’s Minnesota-Duluth team beat Coyotes C Clayton Keller’s Boston U. team in the NCAA West Regional final in March.