GLENDALE, Ariz. — Mikkel Boedker’s mission this season was to shed past baggage. Lauri Korpikoski’s was to prove he could be more than a third-line, defensive wing.
Both Coyotes recently took strides in the right direction.
Boedker had a goal and an assist and Korpikoski scored and had two assists as the Coyotes opened the floodgates in a 6-0 win over the Calgary Flames on Tuesday at Jobing.com Arena.
Seven players recorded a multi-point game for Phoenix — Shane Doan, Martin Hanzal, Radim Vrbata, Mike Ribeiro and Michael Stone were the others — and backup goalie Thomas Greiss made 27 saves for his second career shutout and the Coyotes’ first this season.
"We obviously talk about winning games at home and the last two we dropped at home so we obviously wanted to come out and give a good effort," said Boedker, who reached a career-high in points (29) with Tuesday’s effort. "We have two more home games that we must win and that’s the way we look at it."
Boedker has been on a tear over the last month. Fourteen of his 29 points have come since the start of December. That’s a positive sign for a player looking to prove he can finish a season strong after posting just two goals in his final 22 games last season.
But Boedker also wanted to prove he deserved a long-term deal this offseason, not the two-year, $5.1 million contract he signed. He wanted to become the watershed player for an organization that has not done a good job cultivating elite forward prospects.
"You always want to prove to guys that are talking in the media saying this and that — you always want to prove them wrong," Boedker said. "That’s something you take to heart.
"As of late, I feel like I’ve been playing well, skating well, been moving my feet and I’ve been getting the pucks in the right area and that’s all the credit to my teammates."
Coach Dave Tippett believes the most critical change for Boedker has been his switch to right wing, a move the Coyotes made the first game of November in San Jose.
"Since we changed him over from the left side to the right side, his production and finishing chances have been much better," Tippett said. "Sometimes, it’s hard for players to play the off-side but he feels more natural over there."
Korpikoski is finally starting to feel comfortable since returning from a concussion on Dec. 21 after being sidelined for 13 games.
He has five points in his last four games, and posted just his third three-point game in the past three seasons on the same day he was named to Finland’s Olympic team.
"Pick the team every week!" Korpikoski joked. "It was a good day today to get the call for the team but now I have to concentrate on playing with the Coyotes and getting into the playoff push."
Tippett threw a bottle of water on the mounting enthusiasm after the win by noting that there are still problem areas in the Coyotes’ game that need fixing. But Phoenix desperately needed this win after dropping back-to-back home games and going to 2-5-2 at home after a 9-0-1 start.
Phoenix plays 10 of its final 16 at home and should get Oliver Ekman-Larsson back in the lineup this week, possibly for Thursday’s home game against Minnesota, which is vying with the Coyotes for the eighth spot in the West.
"We needed a win tonight," Tippett said. "We got fortunate with the schedule. They played last night in Colorado and got in late, but we needed a win. It’s as simple as that. We were able to get it. Hopefully, we can build on it."