Dvorak, Grabner keep Coyotes howling with 4-2 win over Kings
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Before Arizona’s seven-game homestand began, several players spoke about winning five to get back into the playoff race.
The surging Coyotes have even exceeded those expectations.
Christian Dvorak and Michael Grabner each scored two goals and Darcy Kuemper made 33 saves to win for the ninth time in 10 starts to lead the Coyotes past the Los Angeles Kings 4-2 on Saturday night.
Dvorak’s second goal broke a 2-2 tie midway through the third period and Grabner scored on a breakaway with four minutes remaining as the Coyotes won for the eighth time in nine games while setting a franchise record with their first 6-1 homestand.
“We knew it was a huge homestand for us,” Dvorak said. “We had to treat every game like a playoff game. It is huge to get 12 out of 14 points. But we can’t be too high. We have to take that on the road now.”
The Coyotes, pushing for their first playoff appearance since 2012, are one point behind Minnesota for the final Western Conference wild-card berth with a game in hand.
“It’s a playoff atmosphere out there for us,” Grabner said. “We have to win every game. That’s how we look at it. And it’s been a lot of fun.”
Dvorak and Grabner scored about two minutes apart in the first period, showing no rust after extended down time. Dvorak missed the first five months of the season after surgery to repair a torn pectoral muscle before being activated in late February, and Grabner was playing his second game after missing 41 with an eye injury.
“A lot of hours,” Arizona coach Rick Tocchet said of the recovery process. “They are here at 7 am. They are skating by themselves. They’ve been doing it for three, four, five months.
“And this is why they did it, right, for the hope of being part of something. They are a piece of what we are doing right now. I give them a lot of credit.”
Adrian Kempe and Carl Grundstrom both scored and Drew Doughty had two assists for the Kings, who have lost 13 of 14.
The 21-year-old Grundstrom tied the game at 2 with his first NHL goal at 3:44 of the third period. Grundstrom, promoted from the American Hockey League on Saturday, was acquired from Toronto in the trade for Jake Muzzin on Jan. 28.
“It was good to see him get rewarded,” Kings coach Willie Desjardins said. “He does do quite a few things, and it is not just the big things. He does a lot of really small things that sometimes go unnoticed. He fit right in.”
Dvorak tipped in a slap shot by Jakob Chychrun from the left point on a power play to give the Coyotes a 1-0 lead at 7:23 of the first period. Dvorak underwent surgery for a torn pectoral muscle early in the season and had his first goal in six games since being activated. He had 15 goals in each of his first two seasons.
Grabner’s fifth short-handed of the season gave the Coyotes a 2-0 lead two minutes later.
“We’ll take those goals, but the biggest thing is to kill off those two minutes and get the momentum on our side,” Grabner said.
Kempe used his speed to score late in the first period to make it 2-1, beating a Coyotes defender along the boards and skating in on Kuemper.
“Once they tied it up, we started to push a little more and take over the game and play our game,” Grabner said. “The struggles were at home, and I think we figured that out a little bit. Now we have to go on the road and play the same way and build off this homestand.”
NOTES: Kuemper has given up just 16 goals in his last 10 starts. ... The Coyotes have 14 short-handed goals, second to Calgary (16). No other team has more than nine. ... The Coyotes have won seven of their last 10 against the Kings. ... The Coyotes are 25-1-1 when leading after two periods. ... Kings forward Anze Kopitar, held scoreless, has 24 goals and 66 points in 66 career games against the Coyotes. ... Los Angeles’ Jack Campbell had 28 saves while starting for Jonathan Quick, who has given up 26 goals in his last six starts.
Kings: Finish a two-game trip Sunday at Anaheim with the second of back-to-back games. The teams will play three times in a 13-game span.
Coyotes: Open a two-game road trip Monday in Chicago, where former Blackhawk Vinnie Hinostroza had a two-goal game in the Coyotes’ 4-1 victory Oct. 18.