An unlikely duo led the Phoenix Coyotes to a win over the visiting Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday night. Coyotes backup goalie Thomas Greiss stopped all 30-shots that came his way and Phoenix defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored a pair of goals in a 3-0 win over the Kings.
It was Greiss' second shutout in his last three-starts and he improved to 7-3-1 this season, with a 2.00 GAA and .935 SV%.
Despite the shutout victory the Coyotes captain Shane Doan feels that his squad has room to improve.
“We've got room to improve but we were good enough to win,” Doan said.
The Coyotes got on the scoreboard less than four-minutes into the game. Phoenix defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson blasted a wrister from beyond the point and right past Kings goalie Jonathan Quick for his seventh goal of the season. Antoine Vermette tallied an assist on the play and in the process extended his point streak to five-games.
Ekman-Larsson wasn't done for the night.
At 3:04 in the second period the Kings Jordan Nolan received two penalties, roughing and interference, for his check on the Coyotes Kyle Chipchura. Twelve-seconds later Ekman-Larsson scored his second goal of the night and he was assisted by Shane Doan and Mikkel Boedker.
It was Doan's 500th career assist and the Captain is now third all time in Phoenix Coyotes/Winnipeg Jets history for career assists, trailing Thomas Steen (553) and Dale Hawerchuk.
“Those guys didn't pay as long as I did with the organization and they're still way ahead of me,” Doan said. “So it's one of those things, slow and steady I guess.”
The Coyotes sealed the deal when Vermette scored his team leading 19th goal of the season at 8:47 in the third period. Vermette has been as hot as the Human Torch lately. He has four-goals in his last two games and a five-game point streak, with six-goals and two-assists in that stretch.
It was the Coyotes second win in their last three-games and they improved to 25-18-10 this season but they didn't make up any ground in the playoff hunt to the Minnesota Wild. Phoenix trails the Minnesota by four-points for the last playoff spot in the Western Conference and the Wild knocked off the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday night.
“We've got to be better than average if we want to make the playoffs,” Doan said. “We've got to find a way to climb up. Keep climbing and hopefully this is a step in the right direction but we need to be better yet.”
Tuesday night was the first game of a five-game home stand for the Coyotes. Phoenix is off Wednesday and on Thursday they host the Buffalo Sabres.
Phoenix head coach Dave Tippett seemed satisfied with his team's performance against the Kings and is hoping that the Coyotes will sweat the details towards consistent play.
“We played well, played solid,” Tippett said. “Did all the little things that we need to do to win on a consistent basis. Now we have to continue to do that game in, game out. And that will be the challenge coming in to the next game. “