Kings 4, Coyotes 3

Rob Scuderi hadn’t scored a goal all year long for the Kings,

while Willie Mitchell and Brad Richardson were only one goal ahead

of him on Los Angeles’ sparse season scoresheet.

The Kings needed every improbable contribution they could get to

end one of the worst scoring droughts in franchise history.

Mitchell scored the tiebreaking goal early in the third period,

and the Kings beat the Phoenix Coyotes 4-3 Monday night with their

highest-scoring performance in over a month.

Scuderi, Brad Richardson and captain Dustin Brown also scored

for the Kings in their second victory under new coach Darryl

Sutter. Los Angeles scored at least three goals for the first time

in 15 games since Nov. 22, ending the 44-year-old club’s longest

stretch of such low-scoring hockey.

So what if Phoenix goalie Jason LaBarbera probably should have

stopped both third-period goals from Mitchell and Brown? The Kings

will take their newfound potency on the road with them – even if

they end up traveling without high-scoring forward Simon Gagne, who

incurred an unspecified injury during the game.

”I’m sure he’d like to have a couple of those plays back,”

said Scuderi, who hadn’t scored since Feb. 5. ”But it’s an

attitude we’re trying to get here. We’re trying to turn the page.

It’s unfortunate that it cost someone their job, but we’re just

trying to get things together.”

Jonathan Quick stopped 26 shots for Los Angeles, which climbed

into a three-way tie with Phoenix and Colorado for ninth place in

the Western Conference. Only the New York Islanders have scored

fewer goals this season than the Kings, who have won four of six

following a five-game skid that cost coach Terry Murray his

job.

Mitchell drove the net and put the Kings ahead shortly after the

third period began with a shot that banked off LaBarbera’s chest.

Brown then chased LaBarbera with a change-of-pace shot that somehow

went right through the goalie for Brown’s 150th career goal.

”I think everybody’s confidence is improving,” said Anze

Kopitar, who had two assists. ”We know we can play a

puck-possession type of game. We did a good job this time.”

Yet even this steady victory might carry a steep cost: Gagne sat

out the third period after getting ”banged up” earlier in the

game, according to Sutter. The seven-time 20-goal scorer has a

history of concussions and other injuries.

Raffi Torres scored two goals on exceptional plays by the

Coyotes, and Daymond Langkow added a third-period goal in Phoenix’s

sixth loss in nine games.

LaBarbera, the former Kings goalie, made 25 saves before getting

pulled from his third straight start in place of injured Mike

Smith. Phoenix also played without center Martin Hanzal, who has a

lower-body injury.

”With the injuries we have in our lineup, we wanted to make

sure we competed hard and give ourselves the best chance of

winning,” Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. ”We were hanging

around the whole game, right until the end. I think there were a

couple of goals in the third that Barb would like to have back.

Those were tough to overcome. I know (Brown’s goal) went up short

side on him, and you don’t like to see a goal scored on the short

side.”

The Coyotes returned from the holiday without Smith, who

strained his groin on a non-contact play at Florida last week.

Phoenix put Smith on its injured list Monday and recalled former

Ducks goalie Curtis McElhinney, who replaced LaBarbera with 13:54

to play.

”When you’re chasing them in the game the whole time, it makes

it even more difficult,” Coyotes captain Shane Doan said. ”They

scored early, and it was one of those games where we were chasing

them for the rest of the night. In the second period, I thought we

had control of the game, but we let it get away from us. We tried

to get it back in the third, but it was too late.”

Torres evened it after Scuderi’s slap shot put the Kings ahead

less than 5 minutes in. Richardson then tipped home Slava Voynov’s

shot in front of LaBarbera late in the first period, getting just

his second goal in 27 games this season.

Torres scored the second period’s only goal on an exceptional

blue line-to-blue line pass by Patrick O’Sullivan, who was recalled

from Phoenix’s AHL affiliate in Portland earlier Monday.

”I didn’t really expect much, but Sully just put it right on my

tape in mid-stride and I was able to finish,” said Torres, who had

his first multigoal game since leaving Vancouver to sign with

Phoenix in the offseason.

Langkow kept it close with a fast-break goal just 33 seconds

after Brown’s score, converting a rebound of Mikkel Boedker’s

shot.

NOTES: F Mike Richards briefly went to the Kings’ locker room in

the second period after getting hit in the ear by a shot from Drew

Doughty. … Doughty had an assist in his fourth straight game,

matching his career high. Los Angeles’ $56 million defenseman has

just 14 points in 31 games this season.