Willie Mitchell scored the tiebreaking goal early in the third period, and the Los Angeles Kings broke their offensive slump Monday night, beat the Phoenix Coyotes 4-3 for their second victory under new coach Darryl Sutter.
Rob Scuderi, Brad Richardson and captain Dustin Brown also scored for the Kings, who scored at least three goals for the first time in 15 games since Nov. 22, ending the longest stretch of such low-scoring hockey in franchise history.
Mitchell and Brown both scored in the third period on stoppable shots against Phoenix’s Jason LaBarbera, who made 25 saves before getting pulled from his third straight start in place of injured No. 1 goalie Mike Smith.
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.
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.
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.
Phoenix also played without center Martin Hanzal, who has a lower-body injury.
After Scuderi’s slap shot put the Kings ahead less than five minutes in, Torres evened it with a difficult shot, keeping his balance on a breakaway despite getting manhandled from behind by Jack Johnson.
Richardson 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.
O’Sullivan, who spent the past three weeks in the minors, somehow threaded the puck past three Kings to set up Torres’ breakaway score and his first multigoal game since leaving Vancouver to sign with the Coyotes in the offseason.
Mitchell drove the net and put the Kings ahead shortly after the third period began, and Brown chased LaBarbera with a change-of-pace shot that went right through the goalie for Brown’s 150th career goal. LaBarbera slammed his goal stick on the ice in frustration before McElhinney relieved him.
Langkow kept it close with a fast-break goal just 33 seconds after Brown’s score, converting a rebound of Mikkel Boedker’s shot.